How far we've come…

In the storage room of my house is a box from a printer that reads "Data Processing Forms." The picture on the outside of the box is of paper that has those "tractor feed" pinholes on the sides, for feeding through a dot matrix printer. Mind you, this box is no more than 15 or 16 years old. This reminded me of how far we've come, in such a short amount of time.

At my first association job, all of the invoice printing (for membership or other products) was done on a tractor-fed dot matrix printer, in triplicate. Two copies to the member, one copy for our files. Today, we email the member, they pay online, and we barely have to touch anything. How far we've come.

In a matter of about 15 years, we've gone from DOS, to Windows, to web-based products that can be viewed on handheld smartphones. Go back just 20 years and if the association had a database at all, it was probably a unix-based mini-computer. How far we've come.

Keeping up with technology, especially at this kind of pace, is difficult. But the amazing advances have allowed us (should allow us) to focus our energies on servicing the member, developing new products and services, and delivering on our association's mission, rather than spending time printing and mailing invoices in triplicate. Is your association there, or are you still working in the 20th century? How far we've come, and yet how far we have to go…

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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