Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Some history IS important!

December 7, 2022

Some history IS important! When I’m advising clients on data conversion (moving data from one system to another) my advice is always the same: “Convert as little data as possible.” There is one big exception to this rule: volunteer and award history. Almost all volunteer history (and certainly all award history) should be kept, essentially …

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“Many mickles make a muckle.”

November 30, 2022

“Many mickles make a muckle.” “Many mickles make a muckle.” – George Washington Apparently, this was an old Scottish saying (and a favorite of George Washington’s) that means “things add up.” Over time, many little things can become big things. This is absolutely true when it comes to managing data. Many little decisions and actions we take …

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It’s easy to collect; it’s harder to manage

November 16, 2022

It’s easy to collect; it’s harder to manage The beauty of today’s highly configurable AMS products is that they make it very easy to collect and store data. But configuring the system is actually the easy part. The “hard” part is ensuring there is a process in place to collect and manage the data and that …

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Tell them why you want the data

November 9, 2022

Tell them why you want the data Because data is so easy to collect these days, there’s a tendency to try to collect all kinds of data about our members and customers, in the hopes that “maybe we’ll use that data eventually.” One of the (many) problems with this approach is that our members and …

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Don’t get hung up on something minor

November 2, 2022

Don’t get hung up on something minor I’m a problem solver. I love to solve problems. Which is great until it’s not. One trap for problem solvers like me is trying to solve a problem that really doesn’t need to be solved. I see this happen a lot in data management, especially as it pertains to …

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Be flexible, especially for unusual requests

October 26, 2022

Be flexible, especially for unusual requests One of the great benefits of off-the-shelf association management software (AMS) products is that the products are “built for the masses,” meaning the functionality that most associations need (e.g., membership, events, committees, etc.) is already built into the system in some form or another. Because the products are meant to appeal to the …

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“Her eyes were bigger than her stomach.”

October 19, 2022

“Her eyes were bigger than her stomach.” When I was a child, my siblings used to joke about how one of our sisters, on the rare occasion when we ate at a restaurant (like McDonald’s!), was well known for ordering way more food than she could eat. Later in life I heard the phrase “Her eyes …

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Once you buy crap…

October 12, 2022

Once you buy crap… “When you buy something cheap and bad, the best you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it. When you buy something expensive and good, the worst you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it.” – grandmother of Sasha Aickin, former CTO at Redfin. I love this …

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It could always be worse

October 5, 2022

It could always be worse Because most of us don’t have the benefit (like I do) of seeing how other associations are managing their data, we tend to think our situation is much worse than it really is. So I like to collect stories of organizations that really ARE in bad shape. Here’s the latest example: A …

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It’s all about managing expectations

September 28, 2022

It’s all about managing expectations I placed an order online on a Friday and the store I was ordering from told me my product would deliver the following Wednesday. I would have preferred to receive the product sooner, but Wednesday it is. On the next day, Saturday, FedEx sent me an email confirming the product …

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Experience is the best teacher

September 21, 2022

Experience is the best teacher Experience is the best teacher. Every one of us has experienced this (pun intended!) and we all know it’s true. And yet too often, when it comes to database training, we think we can place staff in front of a trainer, have the trainer show the class how to do something, …

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Don’t ask for what you don’t need!

September 14, 2022

Don’t ask for what you don’t need! Recently I received a bill from a doctor’s practice. The bill provided a website for paying online. So I went to the website and the first thing it asked me for is my account number. This is good because the bill they sent me has my account number on it. …

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It is never done – so celebrate!

September 7, 2022

It is never done – so celebrate! A client of mine recently had their official “go-live” with their new AMS. On the day after go-live, my client said “I still have a whole list of things to do. We’re not done at go-live, we’re just getting started!” And she’s absolutely right! There is really no …

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MDR (Minimum Data Required)

August 31, 2022

MDR (Minimum Data Required) I’ve written about minimum viable product (MVP) in software development in the past. MVP means getting the product out into the market with the least amount of features, in order to get customer feedback and to just get something out there. A related concept in data management is minimum data required (MDR)*. The purpose …

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Simpler and Faster is Better

August 24, 2022

Simple and Faster is Better Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to attend a session at ASAE’s Annual Meeting entitled “No Analyst, No Problem!” presented by Bailey Kasten and Meagan Roloff. Their session was essentially about creating data visualizations on a shoestring budget. They presented several “case studies” of how they took relatively complex …

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Patience and grace

August 17, 2022

Patience and grace A past client of mine recently told me: “You inspire confidence and calmness which people need when going through an AMS transition.” This got me thinking about two behavioral attributes that I think are absolutely critical to success when going through any major technology transition: patience and grace. Technology transitions, no matter …

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Sometimes you just have to try it and see what happens

August 10, 2022

Sometimes you just have to try it and see what happens The single greatest key to happiness in data management (and life!) is to seek success and not perfection. A corollary to that could be “Try it and see what happens.” Part of my work with clients is helping them make decisions about business rules and business …

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Training and testing

August 3, 2022

Training and testing I’ve written before that the best form of training follows this process: Tell them what you’re going to do, tell them what you’re doing, tell them what you did. When working with your software company to report bugs or other issues, you should follow a similar process: Tell them what you were …

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How to save a “failing” project

July 27, 2022

How to save a “failing” project It is not unusual for me to receive a call from an association that sounds something like this: “We implemented a new AMS in the past year, everyone on staff hates the new system, and this whole project is failing. What can we do to save it?” While every project …

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How to avoid the “IT black hole”

July 20, 2022

How to avoid the “IT black hole” Going all the way back to my days as an association staffer (more than 30 years ago) I’ve encountered what I call the “IT black hole.” The IT black hole is where technology issues go to die. Perhaps you’ve experienced this. You report an issue to your technology staff …

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