Don’t forget about the people

In my speeches, my writing, and my work with clients, I often talk about the three key elements of people, process, and technology. All three are key to a successful project or a successful organization.

But we can’t forget how critical “people” are in that equation.

A couple years ago I worked with a client who was having some significant challenges with their AMS. The executive director was fairly new and he had inherited a new AMS selected and implemented just before he arrived. So the software was relatively new to the association (less than two years) and they were still having lots of problems with it.

When we discussed what wasn’t working, I knew the AMS they were using could do what they needed, so that immediately implied either a process issue or a personnel issue (or both). After working with them for just a few days, we quickly determined it was both a process issue AND a personnel issue.

As I learned through the process, the AMS that had been recently selected and implemented was NOT the AMS the IT director preferred. As a result, he spent a lot of his time complaining about all the things that weren’t working in the new AMS, and was actively disdainful of and disrespectful to the AMS provider. As it happened, there was another person on staff (outside the IT department) who had very strong database skills and was also a very pleasant person to work with. I advised my client to move this person into the project management role and minimize the IT director’s role with the AMS.

The client took my advice and things made a sharp turn in the right direction. The IT director left the association shortly thereafter. My client reports that two years later things are still working well.

So while we may have a tendency to focus on the technology and even the processes related to managing our systems, it’s always important to keep in mind that “people” are an equally important part of the equation. Don’t overlook that.

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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