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“Why do we need this position now?”

I was speaking to an association executive recently about the idea of adding a database manager to their staff (I discuss the concept of a database manager here). As we discussed this, she asked “If we’ve gotten by for the past ten years without a database manager, why do we need this position now?”

There are three reaons:

  1. Customer expectations have changed – Thanks to great companies like Amazon and Zappos, customer expectations for what you can with data (and what the customer can do with their OWN data) has changed dramatically over the past decade. Ten years ago the customer would allow you “up to 8 weeks for address changes to take effect.” That is no longer the case. The customer wants that data changed NOW!
  2. There is more data than ever to manage – I’m continually amazed at the amount of data that even the smallest associations have to manage. As an example, I have one client of three staff that manages data for membership, events registration, exhibits, sponsorships, donations, and a massive online directory of their members. That’s a LOT of data!
  3. Customer expectations have changed (yes, it’s so important, it’s listed twice) – Beyond just doing things quickly as noted in point #1 above, the customer also expects you to be much more accurate with the data, and to know much more about them and thus communicate with them with relevance. No longer will the customer tolerate mass email (or snail mail) that is not personalized and irrelevant. Talk to them too often about irrelevant issues and they’ll tune you out completely.

There are certainly plenty of other reasons why an association that didn’t need a database manager a decade ago may need one now. Times change, customer expectations change. Associations have to keep up or be left behind.

About author:
  • I agree whole heartedly with the need for a Database Manager position for all the reasons put forward by Wes. Pressure on resources, of course, can prevent organizations from adding to their staff roster or can restrict the time available for existing staff to dedicate time to the task. We, at Blue Tahiti, dedicate a great deal of effort to the task of improving data quality and all round visibility. You can learn more about our approach by listening to a short podcast page entitled ‘A perfect 360° Constituent View – How close can we get’. My thought is that a system can go a long way to support this role or even meet much of the needs, where staff resources might be limited.

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Testimonials

“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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