Another reason I prefer off-the-shelf software

I’ve written several items in the past about why associations are better off with off-the-shelf association management software rather than trying to build their own. Another reason that I prefer off-the-shelf association management software is that when software is already designed, by definition it creates restraints. And restraints are good things.

I was working with a client recently, as we prepared to go live with their new AMS. We talked about how they originally (prior to hiring me) had decided to build a custom system from the ground up, but just in the nick of time they realized an off-the-shelf system would be cheaper and easier to implement than a custom system.

With nearly two dozen staff people having some type of input into how the system is to be used, they realized that the scope would be forever widening, since there was nothing but their imagination to limit what they could do.

But with their new off-the-shelf AMS, they had built-in constraints. Sure, the system could technically be customized to do anything they wanted to do, but customizations would be costly and time-consuming, and the vendor wasn’t very interested in doing them.

These constraints help staff to focus on the processes and objectives that are the most important, without getting side-tracked by trying to build a perfect system and managing to the exception.

Sometimes it’s good to be constrained.

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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