When I work with clients on their data management processes, I’m always looking for ways to make life easier for the staff as well as for the customer. That typically means finding ways to make the database do more of the work for us, so as to lower labor intensity.

But sometimes it’s either not possible, or prohibitively expensive, to make the database do exactly what we’d like it to do. And that’s when a workaround makes sense.

For example, at the recent ASAE Tech conference, in one session I sat in, a panelist discussed a major customization made to their database so as to accommodate a particular process within his association. The panelist explained the customization cost nearly $100,000. The process is executed twice a year. Surely a process that is executed only twice per year can be done for less than $100,000.

Granted, this is an extreme example, but the point obtains. Sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense to try to get the database to do every last thing for us. And it’s at those times when a workaround actually makes sense.