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60 staff but only six users; and that’s OK

I was working with an association recently, helping them select a new association management system. The association has 60 FTEs, working on a wide variety of issues including regulatory and government affairs.

As we worked through the process of identifying their functional needs, it became apparent that although they have a relatively large staff, the number of staff that would actually use the AMS on a regular basis was only six. Six out of 60. How is this possible?

In my experience, this is not that unusual. In this association’s case, many of the staff are doing research on behalf of the association or its members. Others are subject matter experts creating content for the industry, and still others are performing government relations activities at the local, state, and federal level. In all of these cases, the staff are either not touching the data at all, or only need to pull lists of individuals on a periodic basis. These staff simply have no need to use the AMS on a regular basis.

And that’s OK.

Very often, my clients will get hung up on the idea that “everyone should use the system.” That is a sentiment I generally agree with, but I would modify that statement by saying “Everyone who can get value from the system should use it.”

So don’t get too concerned if not everyone is using the system. They may not need to.

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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.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“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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