I get this question a lot from my clients, especially “smaller” clients (those under 25 staff). This issue becomes particularly relevant when the association has implemented a new organization-wide association management system for the first time.
As a very general rule of thumb, I think once an organization has reached 25 staff, it’s time to have a full-time database management person.
Note that I’m not saying hire an “IT” person. These days, outsourcing your infrastructure management is relatively painless. But active management of your database is critical, and I don’t think it’s something that can be outsourced or managed part-time, and I don’t necessarily believe it’s best placed in the IT department.
In fact, when I think of my most successful clients, most of them have responsibility for management of the database outside of the IT department (it’s often in the membership department).
Of course, my rule of thumb is just a guideline. Some of my clients have a full time data management person with only 15 staff.
“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.”
“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.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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