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Why I don’t recommend parallel processing

Every so often, a client of mine will ask me about parallel processing. Generally they’ll ask something like “How long should we be running both our current AMS and our new AMS in parallel?” My answer is always “Don’t bother with parallel processing.” Here are three reasons:

  1. Staff never actually does it. Think about it; you’re asking data processors to double work. Are you giving them twice as much time to do it, or taking half of their other work away from them? Probably not. The end-result is that in real-life, parallel processing rarely happens.
  2. You can develop test scenarios that mimic real-life processing, which will allow you to test the new AMS without having to do parallel processing. This is easier, less time consuming, more focused, and thus more likely to actually get done.
  3. Parallel processing has a tendency to cause the users to focus on how things are done now, vs. how they SHOULD be done in the new AMS (i.e. business process changes). By changing the focus to testing on the new AMS, you’ll also give the users a chance to really think about current business processes and how they should change with a new AMS.

Back in the day, one almost had to do parallel processing, due to technology restrictions (i.e., it was too expensive to run test environments). That restriction no longer applies, and in my experience, parallel processing is rarely effective.

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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.”

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“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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