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Don’t let the exception drive the rule

I’ve written many times about managing exceptions and being careful not to design rules around exceptions. As a general rule of thumb, if a given action occurs less than 10% of the time, it’s an exception, and should be treated as such.

For example, one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is that members and customers will create duplicate records. They go to the website, can’t remember their login, and rather than using the “forgot password” functionality, they create a new record.

The first question I always ask is “How often does this happen?” Because the reality is, some percentage of customers are always going to ignore the forgot password, or create multiple records in order to “cheat,” or do something else that most customers don’t do. That’s the reality.

What we need to ask is, how often does this happen? Because even though these things are remarkably irritating to staff, they are probably rare compared to the number of customers who actually DO remember their password!

You will always have duplicate records. You will always have customers who are too lazy (or too dumb??) to use the forgot password functionality. Don’t let these typically very small exceptions drive your business rules.

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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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