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Would you trust a mechanic with decades-old tools?

If you have a car that was manufactured in the past ten years and you’ve taken it into the shop, you’ve probably noticed something interesting: One of the first things your mechanic does is plug your car into a handheld computer, to run diagnostic tests. Today’s cars have so many computers on them that in order to diagnose what, if anything, is wrong with your car, you have to plug it into a computer. (I once owned a Jaguar that had, allegedly, 32 distinct computer chips on it!)

While the mechanic may ultimately use some tools that have been around forever (think wrench and pliers), she can’t do her job effectively without that handheld computer.

So why do so many associations continue to use decades-old technology to manage their association’s data? After all, you wouldn’t trust your car to a mechanic who doesn’t have the computer, would you? Yet too many associations continue to give their staff turn-of-the-century tools to manage the organization.

Given the broad array of AMS products available today, and many of them extremely affordable for even the smallest associations, it’s simply malpractice to continue to force your staff to use old tools. If it’s good enough for your auto mechanic, isn’t it good enough for your professional organization?

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6 Comments on "Would you trust a mechanic with decades-old tools?"

Dave Janes - 10 May 2012 Reply

All true enough, but I also have relatives who are farmers that are growing corn and raising hogs profitably while using 1970's era farm machinery and F-150s. You need to walk a line between new for the sake of being new, and new because it is useful. (Those old machines do have GPS and cell phone chargers added, for instance.)

    Wes Trochlil - 10 May 2012 Reply

    No question about it. The new tools have to serve a purpose, and "because they're new" doesn't count!

Sherri Gaines - 13 May 2012 Reply

Wes, times have changed. The associations front-end is the most important component of an AMS system. A lot of times if the associations data is not clean then doesn't make sense for an association to change their backend. After all, it will not make their staff more efficient because the data is bad. Switching AMS systems is costly and time consuming.

    Wes Trochlil - 13 May 2012 Reply

    Sherri, I agree with everything you wrote. AND if an association's data IS bad, they should clean it up. But bad data is hardly an excuse for using old tools.

Sherri Gaines - 14 May 2012 Reply

Wes, that's fair. I just think cleaning up your data should come prior to switching back-end applications.

    Wes Trochlil - 14 May 2012 Reply

    No argument here.

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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

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Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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