Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

A Data Integrity Report…for Reports!

July 29, 2019

I’ve written elsewhere about the value of data integrity reports. But one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is that the actual list of reports within their AMS is so unwieldy, they wind up creating new reports (or queries) because they don’t really know what reports they have or what they do. …

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Simple rules for complex systems

July 28, 2019

Simple rules for complex systems I first heard the phrase “simple rules for complex systems” from Jonah Goldberg, who was commenting on rules for political/social systems. But I think this maxim is very applicable to data management. After all, most AMS systems are complex, so the rules that manage them should be as simple as possible. …

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Accentuate the positive

July 24, 2019

Accentuate the positive I’ve written before about the importance of database public relationsand celebrating success. I’ll add a third piece of wisdom to this collection: focus on your triumphs rather than your failures. Or as the old song goes, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. In our jobs as data managers, much of our day is spent trying …

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Annual dues vs. anniversary dues

July 10, 2019

Annual dues vs. anniversary dues I served as director of membership for several years at a couple of different associations. When talking with my fellow association membership pros, the question often arose: Which is best; anniversary dues or annual dues? Some quick definitions: anniversary dues are dues that are renewed a year after the member joins …

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A change of systems requires a change of mindset

July 8, 2019

Every AMS vendor will tell you that the toughest part of implementing a new system is getting the association staff to think differently about the new AMS. And this isn’t just limited to changing processes (although that is incredibly important). It’s also about changing mindset. What do I mean by changing mindset? Here are three …

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It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial

June 26, 2019

It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial I’m a big fan of the author James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/) who writes about the formation of habits. I believe (good!) habits are an important element of success (I’ve written about it before.) In a recent blog post, Clear wrote: “Just because it’s not optimal, doesn’t mean it’s …

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Look for small wins

June 19, 2019

Look for small wins One of the toughest things about system implementation is simply how long it takes to complete one. And so keeping momentum and staff interest in the project is paramount. By month six of implementation, staff can be pretty burned out. I always recommend to my clients that throughout implementation they look for …

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Are you closing the loop?

June 12, 2019

Are you closing the loop? If your association does a call for presentations for any of your events, do you provide feedback to those submitters whose presentations were not accepted? Or do you simply send a generic “Thanks for applying but your presentation was not accepted” note? If you’re not providing feedback on WHY the …

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Declare victory and move on

June 5, 2019

Declare victory and move on The law of diminishing returns is the point at which the amount of benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested. My experience with my clients is that sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of this rule. Like a dog with a bone, sometimes we’ll encounter a …

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Clean as you go

March 28, 2019

Clean As You Go A good cook or baker knows that, when working in the kitchen, you clean as you go, so that there isn’t a HUGE mess to clean up when you finish. The same is true for data management. Clean as you go. If you’re entering registrations for events, or new memberships, or …

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Baby Steps

March 21, 2019

One of the keys to developing good data management habits is to be aware of biting off more than you can chew. Or to put it another way, when you set out to change some data management habit, start with baby steps rather than some huge, unattainable goal. For example, if you’re looking to clean …

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Success Requires Discipline

March 14, 2019

When it comes to data management, most of us know what to do; we just don’t do it. What is required is discipline. Discipline is absolutely critical when it comes to managing data effectively. For example, you have to have the discipline to: enter the data when you receive it (I so often hear associations say “We have …

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Take a moment to be grateful

March 7, 2019

Because we’re so focused on always improving what we have now, it’s easy to overlook the things we already have. I’ve been working in association management systems for almost 30 years now, and the amount of progress in technology over that time is nearly dumbfounding. We’ve gone from systems that were entirely locked down, character-based, …

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KPIs and Dashboards

February 28, 2019

I saw DJ Muller from MemberClicks speak on KPIs (key performance indicators). In his session he stated that KPIs must be presented in real-time in order for them to really be adopted. I think he’s almost right; KPIs need to be as close to real-time as feasible. In other words, if the KPIs are 24 …

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Documenting Process is Critical

February 22, 2019

When it comes to managing data successfully, process is critical. For example, a client of mine recently discussed how important it is for them to capture notes across their organization. As different departments talk to members and customers, it’s critical for staff to capture these conversations in the database. But the reality is this: if …

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Motion vs. Action

February 14, 2019

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits (I recommend it!), he discusses the concept of motion vs. action. In a nutshell, it’s the idea that we spend too much time planning what we’ll do instead of actually implementing. Because we are planning (motion), we trick ourselves into thinking we’re actually doing something (action).  It’s an easy habit to fall into. …

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Are You Answering Your Calls?

February 7, 2019

I’ve written about this before, but apparently I have to keep repeating it. If you’ve got a “generic” email box (e.g., info@ or contactus@) or a generic voice mail box on your voice mail system, you need to check it EVERY DAY. And you need to RESPOND to inquiries.  The following just occurred: I contacted …

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Who do you trust?

January 31, 2019

Who Do You Trust I was reading an article recently about Warren Buffet’s “rules” for how he chooses companies to invest in. One of these states that, if he doesn’t trust the CEO of the company, he doesn’t invest. No matter how good the numbers, the fundamentals, the market share, if Buffet doesn’t trust the …

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Set benchmarks to measure progress

January 24, 2019

It’s impossible to measure progress if you don’t know your starting point. This sounds axiomatic, but too often it is overlooked by associations looking to improve their data management. Measuring progress requires setting initial benchmarks. The new year is a perfect time to establish your data management benchmarks. Some ideas: How many data integrity reports do you …

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You’ll make incorrect decisions. Acknowledge them and fix it.

January 17, 2019

A client of mine recently wrote the following to me: “It’s so hard to set up a new database and decide how/where you want to track information when you don’t have a really good understanding of the database and how different fields/screens relate to each other. I think at some point when things slow down …

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