Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Gratitude

November 24, 2021

Gratitude As Thanksgiving in the US approaches, I’m reminded of the importance of gratitude, in life, and yes, in data management. I’m grateful for the amazing advances in technology over my career for many reasons, but here are just a couple of examples: Back in the mid-90s, I managed a staff of six individuals who were …

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“It’s more than I have, but less than I want.”

November 17, 2021

“It’s more than I have, but less than I want.” “It’s more than I have, but less than I want.” These are words uttered by a client of mine recently when looking at new data management software for their organization. There is some deep truth in both parts of that sentence: “It’s more than I have…” Obviously …

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Don’t forget Parkinson’s Law

November 10, 2021

Don’t forget Parkinson’s Law “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” – Cyril Parkinson Many of us are familiar with Parkinson’s Law, especially as it applies to meetings. (If you schedule a meeting for an hour, guess how long it will take to cover the agenda?) But Parkinson’s Law also …

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Just Respond

November 3, 2021

Just Respond Growing up my father used to tell my many siblings and me that if we showed up to work on time and sober, we’d probably do just fine. I always thought he was joking until I entered the workforce and discovered he was right! You can really stand out if you just show …

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People fear uncertainty, not change

October 27, 2021

People fear uncertainty, not change If you’ve ever worked on any big project that was likely to bring about significant change (and what project doesn’t??), you’ve probably heard someone say something like “Our staff is really afraid of change.” But the truth is, people aren’t afraid of change, they’re afraid of uncertainty. How do I …

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“Working with you is like going to therapy.”

October 20, 2021

“Working with you is like going to therapy.” I was working with a client last week and at the end of our conversation she said “Working with you is like going to therapy!” (This is not the first time I’ve heard this from a client.) What she meant is that she did a lot of …

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The best ideas are stolen

October 13, 2021

The best ideas are stolen I don’t remember where I first heard it, but someone said (or wrote) “The best ideas are stolen.” And so I’ve stolen that thought for myself! (I would give credit if I could, but I simply don’t remember.) Another of my favorite stolen ideas is this: “There are those who backup …

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It’s all about expectations

October 7, 2021

It’s all about expectations One of the most critical contributors to the success of a new AMS implementation (or any new system) is managing expectations. I define managing expectations as helping staff and users understand what the system will, and critically, what it will not, do. When I start an AMS selection project with a …

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Either you test, or your members will

September 29, 2021

Either you test, or your members will If I was forced to choose the single most important activity during a system implementation, I would choose testing. The point of testing is to ensure the system does what you expect it to do in normal, day-to-day use. Can you process and renew members? Can members and …

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But are you really willing to change?

September 22, 2021

But are you really willing to change? When any organization is making a change in data management systems, one of the most important considerations during implementation is what business processes need to be changed. Or put another way, when we change the software, are we also willing to change how we do the things we do? It is …

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Two tips for data conversion

September 15, 2021

Two Tips for Data Conversion I’ve written a lot about data conversion over the years (click here for a list) but when I’m asked by my clients for advice on their data conversion, two tips always rise to the top: Convert the absolute minimum amount of data possible. Look at all the data you have and …

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Who should “own” the database?

September 8, 2021

Who should “own” the database? One of the most common questions I get from my clients is “Who should have responsibility for the database?” That is typically followed by “Should it be the membership department, or IT, or somewhere else?” Back in the day, I would recommend that whoever was “closest” to the data should manage it. For …

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What makes you weird?

September 1, 2021

What makes you weird? When I work with clients on selecting a new association management system, one thing I’m digging for is what makes the association weird. What I mean by that is, what is the association doing that most other associations don’t typically do? This is important for a couple of reasons: The weird stuff is usually pretty important …

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Why “AMS Consortiums” Don’t Work

August 25, 2021

Why “AMS Consortiums” Don’t Work About once a year I will get a call from an association executive who has partnered with one or more “similar” associations in search of a new AMS. The group of associations believes they can find one AMS to serve all of the members of the group, and by pooling their resources they can get more …

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Your vendor will disappoint you

August 18, 2021

Your vendor will disappoint you I follow politics as a hobby. A past publisher from a political opinion magazine I read would tell his new writers: “Don’t fall in love with any politician; at some point, they will disappoint you.” I think the same advice can be given about your AMS vendor: “Don’t fall in …

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Learn how to lose

August 11, 2021

Learn how to lose “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” …

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Ownership is Required

July 28, 2021

Ownership is required When asked for the most common reason AMS implementations fail, I typically respond “lack of testing.” But implementation is only the first step in the process. Long-term success for the AMS requires ownership. What do I mean by ownership? I mean that someone (or a team) internally has actual responsibility for the long-term success …

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It’s all relative…

July 21, 2021

It’s all relative… Over the course of my 22 years of consulting, I’ve consulted with well over 250 associations. And in that same time, I’ve probably spoken with an additional 1,000 or more. And one thing that still makes me chuckle is when someone says something along the lines of “We’re a small association” or “We have …

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Eliminate to optimize

July 14, 2021

Eliminate to optimize So much of data management is habit (both good and bad) which is why I love James Clear’s Atomic Habits. Implementing better data management habits can help you improve the quality of your data. Here’s another quote from Clear that applies to data management: “More effort is wasted doing things that don’t matter than …

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For data governance, ask “Why?”

July 7, 2021

For data governance, ask “Why?” Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work on several data governance projects with clients. I always find these projects fascinating because of the breadth of data associations collect. It never ceases to amaze me (in a good way!). One of my big takeaways from these projects is that it’s critically important …

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