Don't let IT drive your business decisions

Let me start by saying I love the guys (and women) in IT. I really do. They are important to our success, and I can tell you many, many stories about how, as my father would put it, they “pulled my bacon out of the fire.” (Here’s just one of those stories.)

But too often, I see decisions about how the association is run (i.e., business decisions) being left to the IT staff, because the work involves a “technology solution.” Let me give you a recent example:

A past client of mine called me recently to update me on how things were going with their new database. She is the director of meetings, so her key interest in a new database was the ability to allow her members to register for events online.

Here it was, more than a year since they had gone live, and she tells me they still don’t have online meeting registration. I know the product they chose offers such functionality, so I asked her why it still wasn’t up. Her reply: “The IT staff didn’t like the online tool, so they said they’re going to build one themselves.”

“Have you or your staff seen the original online registration product yourself?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “They made that decision without talking to us.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior I’m talking about. The online registration tool isn’t there to make the IT staff’s life easier; it’s there to make the customer’s life easier (and by the transitive property, the meeting registration staff’s life easier). For the IT staff to make that decision in a vacuum is really malpractice.

Is that happening in your organization? Are business decisions around technology being delegated to your IT staff because the senior management doesn’t want to get involved, or view it simply as a “technology” issue?

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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