"Our old system used to…"

In my experience, when associations make a database system change, staff will sometimes talk about how the old system used to work. They’ll say things like “In the old system, we could add a new individual record in two minutes; now it takes five.” Or “In the old system it was really easy to pull a list of committee members, just by selecting a checkbox; now it takes ten steps.” Or other words to that effect.

Whether these statements are true or false, it’s critically important to address these comments as soon as they are raised. I suggest one or more of the following responses:

  1. Can we look at the process together to see if there are ways of making it simpler?
  2. Did you know that by doing it that way in the old system, we were creating a lot of other problems?
  3. Are you aware of all the other benefits this new system is bringing us?

and my favorite: “Weren’t you the one who was always complaining about our old system?” (This may or may not apply, so use judiciously!)

Like remembering only the good qualities of an old girlfriend, nostalgia for the old system can alter the perception of a new system. That’s why, among other things, I recommend you have a good database PR campaign in place to continually emphasize the positives of the new system. Don’t get stuck dreaming about the good old days that probably weren’t that good…

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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