I’ve written and spoken many times in the past about the three legs of successful technology management stool: People, process, and technology.
Too often associations focus on technology without thinking about the other two legs of the stool.
Simply put, the technology does not matter without good processes and consistent data entry.
I was reminded of this recently working with a client of mine. I was in the process of helping them select a new association management software system, and in the course of the discussion, we talked about the other technology they already have in place. It was clear that the association had invested quite a bit of time and money in some very good technology tools, and they had very smart staff who were dedicated to getting this done right, but they were still not performing to a level that the association found satisfactory.
After further discussion, it became clear that the real issue for this organization wasn’t the technology, but rather how the technology was being used. Or more aptly, used incorrectly (or not optimally). Some examples:
- Multiple staff were using the software, but there were no clearly documented processes for staff to refer to. As a result, different staff were processing the same data in different manners, resulting in inconsistent and ultimately inaccurate information. The data was “bad” because staff wasn’t consistent with how the data was entered.
- Related to this, there was no consistent staff training provided (either internally or from the external software vendor). Again, different staff used the system in different ways, and often staff was unfamiliar with the array of functionality the software provided.
- The relationship the software vendor was essentially non-existent. Therefore, the association was unaware of critical updates to the software, updates that could address many of the challenges the association was facing.
The good news is, with my help, the association was able to realize these shortcomings and address them, and as a result, will be much happier with the effectiveness of their technology. Look around your organization.
Are the challenges you are facing with your technology really because the technology is weak, old, or bad? Or is it because you haven’t focused enough on using the software correctly (process)? Establishing clear and consistent processes can be tedious, but the results will speak for themselves.