Check your metrics

When I work with my clients on the implementation of a new database, there is a tendency to focus on everything that is not working. That’s human nature, of course. We want to fix it if it is broken.

Unfortunately, all of this focus on the “broken” tends to lead people to believe that the new system doesn’t work at all, or is a failure, or is “worse than the system we had.”

Which is why you should have metrics for any project you embark upon. That is, you should have some way to measure if you’ve achieved the objectives you’ve set out for yourself.

For example, I worked with a small association recently on the implementation of a new, centralized AMS. Their previous system was a homegrown access database that was not connected to their website and did not have strong accounts receivable functionality. They implemented a new system which gave them some serious headaches throughout the process. But when the system was finally live, they had a completely integrated database with strong a/r features and tight integration with their website. The result was that in just a few short months, the vast majority of their members were joining and renewing online, something that had never happened before.

Two of their metrics for success were centralizing their data and integrating the database to their website. They succeeded on those. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun, but it was successful. But had they not had those metrics, they might have assumed, based on their other troubles, that the project was a failure.

So do you have metrics in place for your system? Can you tell if you’re being successful or not?

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, 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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