When I work with my clients on their data management issues (especially when choosing a new AMS), I’ll ask them about board involvement and awareness: For example, how involved is the board in this process? or How much do they know about the current data management system and processes?

Almost invariably, the answer resembles something like this: “Oh, the board has no idea how hard we have to work to get them the data they ask for.”

And therein lies the problem.

As one who worked on the staff side in associations for nearly a decade, I understand the impulse to “protect” the board from how the sausage is made. When the board makes a request, we should do what we can to fulfill it (assuming it’s a reasonable request!).

But we also have an obligation to keep the board informed of how easy or difficult it is to provide them with the information they’re requesting. And if the technology we have is holding us back from providing them what they’re seeking, we should let them know that. That’s not complaining, that’s being transparent.

So the next time you say or hear someone say “The board has no idea how much work it takes for us to provide that information to them,” that’s your cue to speak up.