Short-Term Gain May Cause Long-Term Pain

When it comes to managing our organization’s data, we too often allow our staff some short-term gains which create long-term pain. Let me provide some examples (all of these are actual cases of clients of mine):

  • Managing the list of board members in Outlook because that’s easier than managing them in the central association management system. But when other staff need the list of board members and their email addresses, that information is not accessible. Or if bouncebacks occur, an email is sent to all staff to “update your private mailing lists.” The result is that it’s “easier” to manage the list in Outlook, but the cumulative time spent on managing all those lists outside of the AMS actually takes more total time.
  • It’s easier to use a third-party event registration system than the central AMS because it’s perceived to be easier to use and provides more functionality. Short-term this looks attractive, but long-term it creates another siloed set of data that, in my experience, is rarely brought back into the primary system. So valuable marketing data is essentially lost.
  • Using a non-integrated third-party email tool instead of the tool in the AMS. I’ve actually had clients purchase new AMS software with fully functional broadcast email tools continue to use their existing third-party system because it was “too much trouble” to learn how to use the AMS’s email tool. The long-term problem is that email addresses don’t get updated in the AMS, and opt-outs are not managed there, either.
These are just a handful of examples. I’d bet you have some of your own you can point to. The problem with these short-term fixes is that they create long-term problems, as outlined above.
So before you decide on a new process or technology because it’s going to make life easier, consider the short-term gain against the potential long-term pain.

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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