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Take-aways from Gartner, Part 6
27 September 2007, by , in Gartner CRM Summit 2007, No comments

Other posts on the Gartner CRM Summit 2007 can be found here.

One of the Gartner presenters made the point that CRM strategy can be implemented without technology, but that without technology, it is not easily scalable. Put another way, while you can implement a good customer relationship management strategy on note cards, it’s going to be pretty hard to manage thousands or tens of thousands of customers that way.

I think a lot of associations face this issue, without realizing it. I run into a lot of associations that are managing their data on Excel spreadsheets or home-grown Access or Filemaker databases. There is nothing inherently wrong with managing your data this way. But as the speaker above points out, scalability becomes a problem rather quickly. Even with just a few hundred members, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of all the little details: membership join and renew, name and contact information, meeting attendance, committee participation. You can see why having a “real” association management system (AMS) can be beneficial.

I think what organizations in this situation need to realize is that having a real AMS is a cost of doing business and the board should be educated on how much these systems cost, what it takes to manage them, and most importantly, why it’s important to have a solid data management system in place.

For those associations that may still be running on home-grown systems, there are now many options available at a relatively low cost. Products such as affiniscape, Avectra’s netForum OnDemand and Memberclicks are all designed to provide high functionality at a relatively low price.

Full disclosure: EDM is an independent third-party consulting firm. This means we have no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this blog. We provide unbiased opinions on what we see.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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