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?
“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