Focus on Outcomes, not Inputs

When I work with my clients on selecting a new association management system, one of the first steps we take is to review what data the organization needs to manage. When I have these discussions with association staff, the tendency is for staff to focus on HOW data is processed (input), as opposed to WHAT we want to accomplish with the data once it is collected (outcome).

For example, when discussing event registration processing, staff will tell me about all the forms that have to be completed, all the business rules that are associated with event registration, and who on staff gets involved in the process. While this answers the question of how the data is managed, it doesn’t answer the question of what our intended outcome is. For most event registration processes, the outcomes typically include registrants contact info (for name badge and attendees list, confirmation email, updates, etc.) and payment information. HOW we get to that information is important, but WHAT we need from the process is key.

Too often we are too married to the way we do things and thus we focus on the HOW rather than the WHAT. When we focus on outcomes rather than inputs, it allows us to consider alternatives to the current business practices.

So whether it’s selecting new software or just revamping existing business processes, consider output and work back from there.

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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