During one session I attended at the ASAE Tech Conference, the issue arose of testing in the AMS during implementation.
Testing is a key step during the implementation of a new AMS. After all, you either test the system before you launch it (with test case scenarios, discussed below) or you test it in real-time with actual member and customer data (and all its attendant risk). Which approach would you prefer?
Develop test case scenarios
The simplest and best approach to testing is to develop “test case scenarios.” These are simple narrative outlines of processes that you do on a regular or semi-regular basis with your data. Examples of test case titles might include:
To develop test case scenarios, identify the different functional areas in your association (e.g., membership, events, exhibits, sponsorship, donations, product sales, etc.) and within each of those functional areas, outline the different processes that are required for managing the data.
With each process, write up a short narrative. For example, the narrative for “adding a new member” might be “Sue Jones has mailed in a check on January 15, 2012, for $85 to join as a regular member. Her complete contact information is…”
Once you’ve written up your scenarios, you’re ready to test. As you work through each scenario, testers should make notes of anything “unusual” that occurs during the process. This is to ensure that the results of the processes are what the association expects. Sometimes these results may look wrong but are actually correct. Other times they may actually be wrong. In any case, we note the “unusual” events in order to check if the results are what we expect.
Testing is time intensive and tedious, but extremely important to a successful AMS launch. And as I noted at the beginning, you can test before your system is live, or after. But either way, you’ll be testing!
“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”
“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan
“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”
Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance