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“We call it the coffin.”
7 November 2014, by , in Data Management, Executive, IT, No comments

I was meeting with a group of association CFOs recently, discussing how they use their association databases. During the course of the discussion, one of the  executives said “We call our database the coffin.” When I asked him why, he smiled and said “Because in our organization, that’s where data goes to die.”

He explained that although their database was very good at collecting data, it was exceedingly difficult for staff to actually extract the data. Thus, data goes in, but it never comes out.

This is one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients and other association executives. There was a time, of course, when ONLY IT could extract data from the database. And although it’s gotten better over time, querying and reporting in most databases is still very difficult for many staff users.

So if you’re still struggling with this issues, work with your vendor to get the training needed to be able to query for data in your database. If you’ve got a custom system, seek out an expert who knows your platform (e.g., Access, SQL, etc.) and work with him or her to develop a usable querying tool.

Don’t let your database become a data coffin!

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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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