Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

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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There is nothing so permanent as business rules

November 25, 2020

There is nothing so permanent as business rules Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.” I have a similar thought when it comes to association business rules and programs. Too often, new business rules or new programs are instituted, and once in place, are never again reviewed for their …

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Budget for feature discovery and adoption

November 18, 2020

Budget for feature discovery and adoption When developing a budget for implementation of a new AMS, one recommendation I always make to my clients is to budget for things staff will discover they want to do once they’ve learned how to use the new system. In a nutshell, once staff has started using the new …

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Customize staff pages for better user adoption

November 11, 2020

Customize staff pages for better user adoption The single most important element to data management success, bar none, is user adoption of your technology. The very best technology, unused, is, well, useless! There are many aspects to user adoption, but one of the most important is the actual screens or pages that staff users see …

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Don’t ask questions for which you already know the answer

November 4, 2020

Don’t ask questions for which you already know the answer I was recently completing an online form to submit a proposal for speaking at a conference. I had to log in to the system for it to recognize me (which it did). One of the first questions it asked me was “Have you ever spoken …

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All decisions involve risk

October 28, 2020

All decisions involve risk Whether it’s choosing a new AMS or introducing a new product or service, every decision you make involves risk. There are two factors to risk: likelihood (probability of something bad happening) and seriousness. To illustrate: the likelihood of a plane crash is exceedingly small, but clearly, its seriousness is very high. On …

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Try flowcharting your processes

October 21, 2020

Try flowcharting your processes Working with a client recently on their membership join process reminded me of the tremendous value of putting your processes into a flowchart. In their case, a single membership join (organization) requires asking three questions before the correct “join path” is determined. Drawing a flowchart of this decision process will help provide them …

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“I just want a system I don’t have to fight with.”

October 14, 2020

“I just want a system I don’t have to fight with.” I asked my client: “What are you looking for in a new AMS?” She responded: “I just want a system I don’t have to fight with.” And it struck me that this is how A LOT of my clients feel about their data management systems; that …

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Inertia Contributes to Bad Data

October 7, 2020

Inertia Contributes to Bad Data Without knowing anything about your organization or its data, I’d be willing to bet you have data in your system that you are no longer actively managing/using (e.g., data that was collected long ago for some initiative at the time) or, worse yet, actively collecting data that you aren’t actually …

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What are you doing with new contacts?

September 30, 2020

What Are You Doing with New Contacts/ I was very interested to read in a recent report from McKinley Advisors that, with the shift to virtual events, many associations are reporting “up to 70% new participants in their ecosystem.” What that means is these associations are introducing new names to their databases. (Click here to …

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Be Aware of Selection Bias

September 23, 2020

Be Aware of Selection Bias I wrote recently about the mistaken perception of older members not being tech savvy. (You can read that here.) One of my astute readers, Will Slade at Protech, pointed out the following (I’m paraphrasing): “It’s possible that the reason many associations perceive older members to be not tech savvy is …

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