Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Even your online directory is out of date!

May 5, 2021

Even your online directory is out of date! Back in the day of printed directories, there was an aphorism: “By the time your directory hits the street, it’s already out of date.” This was because the data had been collected six months in advance, then had to be collated, designed, sent to the printer, reviewed …

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Start small

April 28, 2021

Start small When I work with my clients on projects that involve measuring member engagement, business intelligence, or data analysis, my advice is always the same: start small. Any one of these types of projects can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to start small. This will allow you to focus and will provide opportunities to …

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Some context, please

April 21, 2021

Some context, please A pet peeve of mine: A report about associations (e.g., marketing benchmarks report) where the report defines associations by the number of members, but fails to discriminate between trade associations and individual associations. In other words, the report will talk about “associations with fewer than 500 members” as if a trade association with 450 members is somehow the …

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Eventually automated emails get ignored

April 14, 2021

Eventually automated emails get ignored During the discovery and development phase of implementing a new AMS, it is not uncommon for staff to ask for automated emails from the system to alert staff to certain changes that are occurring. A couple of common examples: I’d like the system to send me an email when a …

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The challenge the AMS providers see

April 7, 2021

The challenge the AMS providers see Over the years I’ve asked AMS providers what they see as the biggest challenges their customers face when it comes to successful data management. Two issues always rise to the top: Not knowing all of the features available in the system. I see this a lot with my clients. Very often …

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Be careful about “solutioning” too quickly

March 31, 2021

Be careful about “solutioning” too quickly One of the great things about software developers is that they tend to be “solutions-oriented.” By that, I mean that if you give them a particular data management challenge, they want to figure out some way the software can address that challenge. This is a good thing! But too …

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What’s our next action?

March 24, 2021

What’s our next action? As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in meetings (I bet you do, too!). If the meeting has to do with a specific project (e.g., a system selection or implementation project), there are two rules I try to adhere to as much as humanly possible: Anything that can …

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Don’t automate for the sake of automation

March 17, 2021

Don’t automate for the sake of automation I’m the laziest person in the world. I LOVE it when I can make the computer do the work for me. For example, I have all kinds of macros set up on my computer to type words for me faster than I could type them myself. So I’m …

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Don’t forget about what got better

March 10, 2021

Don’t forget about what got better Negativity bias is the tendency to focus on only those things that aren’t working, rather than focusing on what has improved. I’ve observed that during a switch from one AMS to another, frequently staff will fall into this trap. The result can be as simple as spending too much time on …

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Give a little at a time rather than taking away

March 3, 2021

Give a little at a time rather than taking away I’m sure there’s research somewhere that explains this phenomenon*, but in my experience, most people are more bothered when you take something away from them than they are when you give them very little to start with and add as needed. Here’s what I’ve seen: …

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First, you gotta have the data

February 17, 2021

First, you gotta have the data When I work with clients on a new AMS selection and we’re discussing what they want to be able to do with a new system, it’s very common to hear something like: “We want to be able to report on a range of demographics about our members.” Early on …

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Work on your relationship with your AMS vendor

February 10, 2021

Work on your relationship with your AMS vendor It is no coincidence that my most successful clients are those that have a very strong relationship with their AMS vendor. I’ve written in the past about how buying an AMS is more like getting married than buying, for example, a new car. It’s possible (even likely!) …

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Dashboards for Data Integrity

February 3, 2021

Dashboards for Data Integrity I’ve written a bunch on data integrity reports. (Click here for some examples.) The purpose of a data integrity report is to find potentially erroneous data in your system, so you can clean it up. I’ve also written a lot about dashboards. (Click here for some examples.) Dashboards are simply reports …

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Next-to-Nothing Goals

January 27, 2021

Next-to-Nothing Goals I saw a Ted Talk by Christine Carter recently discussing the concept of “next-to-nothing” goals. The idea is to learn a new habit by setting ridiculously small goals that will move you to the larger goal. It could be something as simple as walking for just one minute as a goal toward becoming …

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Just because you can…

January 20, 2021

Just because you can… In response to a recent Wednesday Wisdom on averages hiding the extremes, a past client of mine said: “This reminds of the old saying: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” And he’s absolutely right! There are many examples of this in data management. Here are just a couple: + …

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Always ask “Why?”

January 13, 2021

Always ask “Why?” Little kids ask “Why?” all the time, because they are sponges for learning. They don’t know what they don’t know, and so they ask “Why?” to get a better understanding. As we get older, we tend to lose this natural curiosity, either because we assume “Why?” has already been asked and answered …

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Averages hide the extremes

January 6, 2021

Averages hide the extremes I can’t remember where I first heard it, but “averages hide the extremes” can be a really useful guide when thinking about how you manage data. Here’s a nice illustration from one of my clients: As they looked at their event registration they saw an average of 100 registrations per month …

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Look up PARTIAL names!

December 24, 2020

Look up PARTIAL names! Train your staff to do look ups on partial names, not full names. If you’re looking up an individual’s name, you should only have to type in part of the last name to find the record. The same goes for company names (i.e., organization records). Partial is better than full, because full increases the …

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Not Just Technology

December 16, 2020

Not Just Technology There was recently a discussion on the ASAE online community about project management software. There were lots of recommendations about which software to use and why, but what was missing from the conversation was the people and the process. Every project or program involves people, process, and technology. All three of these elements …

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Consider quitting

December 4, 2020

Consider quitting Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Doctor: “Then stop doing that.” Sometimes it’s just best to stop what you’ve been doing because doing what you’re doing isn’t helpful anymore. For example, I had clients who were still collecting fax numbers within the past couple of years, even though the broad use …

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