Many years ago while working as an association staffer, I was trying to kill some time on a Friday afternoon. I was planning on leaving at 2pm to head to the beach for the weekend, and with only an hour left in the day, rather than starting a new project, I decided to dig around in my AMS.

I came across a menu item that I had not seen before, and based on what it said, I thought it would be cool to try it. (I can't remember what it actually did, but at the time, I was sure I needed to try it right now!) So I ran the process.

Ten minutes later, my IT director came into my office and asked "Have you been playing in the database? Because I just discovered that several tables have just been corrupted."

Yes, what I had done had destroyed several tables of data. Luckily, my IT director had back-ups, and within about four hours was able to re-build the lost tables. He did all this while I happily headed to the beach to start my weekend early.

The moral of the story? Never test in a live environment. Of course, this assumes you have a test environment to play in.

I'm astounded to learn that many associations still don't have test instances of their database available for testing, training, and documentation. I think this is almost as criminal as not having a well-tested back-up system in place, as the story above illustrates.

So, does your association have a test environment of its AMS? And if it doesn't, why not?