Translator, Please.

I was speaking with Mike Murphy at the American Sociological Association about our upcoming session at the 2010 ASAE Technology Conference. (You’re attending, right? Our session is on the AMS selection process.) During our discussion of his experience with selecting and implementing an AMS, Mike raised a great point: It’s critical to have some type of “translation tool” (Mike called it a Rosetta Stone) available to both staff and the new vendor, to help them communicate more clearly and effectively. What we’re looking for is a way for staff to be able to understand that Item A in the legacy system is the same as Item B in the new system.

For example, if your legacy system uses the term “buyer codes” as a way of identifying product pricing, and the new system calls these “product prices,” then your Rosetta Stone shows “buyers codes” = “product prices.” You should do this for any and all nomenclature that is not 100% equivalent between the two systems. This way, when staff discusses how they do something in the current system, it’s easy to communicate to the vendor exactly what staff is saying, and staff can start to see how what they do in the old system may look in the new system.

The Project Management Institute says that communication skills are the most important skills for a project manager to have. Developing a Rosetta Stone can go a long way toward making those communications work.

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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