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Things I heard at ASAE Tech Conference – Why should I use a consultant?
3 January 2012, by , in Executive, 7 comments

Over the course of the next couple of posts, I’m going to write about several things I heard at ASAE’s Tech Conference last month. These will be in no particular order, but all of them arose from discussions I had with attendees at the conference.

First item on the list is how and why to choose a consultant. During a session on general AMS issues, an attendee asked what’s the best way to choose and consultant, and why would I want to? I’ve written about how to choose a consultant here, so I won’t cover that ground again.

But one of the leaders of the session, Mike Guerrieri, of ASHA, made a very important point about why you would want to hire a consultant to help with selection and implementation of a new AMS. Of course, there are all the usual reasons (e.g., expertise your staff doesn’t have), but Mike pointed out that a good third party consultant is focused on the success of the project, not the politics of your organization. That means that a consultant can be blunt and honest about what is working and what is not. There is no tip-toeing around sacred cows, because the consultant doesn’t (shouldn’t!) have any turf to protect.

This is a very important point, and one often overlooked when associations are trying to determine whether or not to use a consultant. A “neutral” third party may be able to address issues that internal staff cannot (or won’t).

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7 Comments on "Things I heard at ASAE Tech Conference – Why should I use a consultant?"

Sean Hendricks - 3 January 2012 Reply

Wes, you should hire a 3rd party and have them survey your clients. Subsequently you can publish it and we would all be intrigued by the results... What do you think?

    Wes Trochlil - 3 January 2012 Reply

    Sean, I always love to hear from my clients, but what would I be asking them?

Sean Hendricks - 3 January 2012 Reply

How happy are they with their new AMS vendor? How many AMS vendors did you circulate a rfp to? How many AMS vendors were invited to demo ? What was the reasoning for selecting the AMS vendor? What did your consultant tell you or detect that you'd have not have detected on your own? Did your consultant curtail or elongate your evaluation process?

    Wes Trochlil - 3 January 2012 Reply

    Sean, since they are my clients, I know the answers to the first five questions. I have suspicions about the answers to the last one.

Sean Hendricks - 3 January 2012 Reply

Surely I understand that. It'd just be more credible if it came from a 3rd party.

Robert Wilkins - 3 January 2012 Reply

Of course, the organization hiring the consultant has to be, or needs to be, receptive of what the consultant is recommending. Otherwise, it's just an exercise.

    Wes Trochlil - 4 January 2012 Reply

    Great point, Bob. I've experienced this only very rarely in my dozen years of consulting. Clients who pay me want to take my advice!

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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

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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