Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

First ask: “How will I use this data?”

April 22, 2020

First ask: “How will I use this data?” Whether it’s during data conversion, adding a new data field, or reconsidering a given process, one of the first questions you should ask is “How will we use that data?” Put another way, just because we can manage the data doesn’t mean we should! For example, I […]

“We run the report three times and get three different results.”

April 15, 2020

“We run the report three times and get three different results.” “We run the same report three times and get different results.” In my 21 years of consulting, I’ve probably heard this (or something similar) dozens, if not hundreds, of times. What the user is usually saying is that when they run two different reports […]

How do you know if you’re making progress?

April 8, 2020

How do you know if you’re making progress? We all want to improve our data management, making it better than it was yesterday. But how do you know if you are improving? Showing progress requires two things: a benchmark and an objective. Your benchmark tells you where you are right now. Your objective tells you where […]

Don’t move too quickly OR too slowly

April 1, 2020

Don’t move too quickly OR too slowly This may sound like a big “duh!” but I’ll say it anyway: When it comes to selecting and implementing a new AMS, don’t move too quickly or too slowly. If you move too quickly, you are very likely to overlook things. During the selection process, this means overlooking functionality […]

“Your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results.”

March 25, 2020

“Your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results.” “Your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results.” – James Clear I’m a big fan of James Clear because much of data management is based on habits. Whatever business process we develop, if we execute it long enough, it becomes habit. And so, […]

There is value in just going through the exercise

March 18, 2020

There is value in just going through the exercise I was working with a client recently on helping them adopt new business rules for managing the customer relationship management (CRM) aspect of their association. The project includes reviewing how staff throughout the organization interact with members and customers, and included discussion of what type of data should be captured, […]

Daylight savings and business rules

March 11, 2020

Daylight savings and business rules This past Sunday, most of the US observed Daylight Savings Time and moved our clocks one hour ahead. Daylight Savings Time (DST) is a case-study in how bad business rules never go away. Consider: DST was implemented first during WWI and then implemented as federal law in 1966. A classic case […]

It’s always about priorities

March 4, 2020

It’s always about priorities No matter the size or type of technology project, you will always be faced with choosing priorities. What gets done first, what gets done second, what will be saved for Phase 2 (or “phase later” as I like to call it). Every project requires you to determine your priorities. So how […]

Only one can be best

February 26, 2020

Only one can be best One of my (many) pet peeves with software vendor marketing is when an AMS company claims “We’re the number one AMS product in the market” or “We’re the top provider of membership software!” Since only ONE company can be “number one,” by definition, all but one of these companies are lying. And […]

Seek to simplify

February 19, 2020

Seek to simplify When I work with my clients on system selection or implementation, one of the things I love to praise them for is simple business rules. When they tell me things like “Our registration is simple; member or non-member, early-bird pricing, that’s it,” I can barely contain my glee! Too often we’re our […]

Some problems are not problems

February 12, 2020

Some problems are not problems “A problem with no solution is not a problem, it’s a fact of life.” This quote, or some form of it, has been attributed to the political philosopher James Burnham. It dawned on me that I encounter this issue frequently with my clients. Because in data management, there many examples […]

UI Matters!

January 29, 2020

UI Matters! Almost since I began consulting over 20 years, I’ve noted how important the user interface (UI) of a system is, in terms of user adoption and ease-of-use. On the staff side, the UI matters because the more “pleasant” a user interface is, the more likely staff is to actually use the system. (I define […]

Be careful with absolutes

January 28, 2020

Be careful with absolutes When I speak with clients I try to be careful about speaking in absolutes. I’ll catch myself saying things like “The only way you can do that…” or “All associations have this challenge…” The proper way to say this is along the lines of “One of the best ways you can […]

New Year’s Resolutions

January 22, 2020

New Year’s Resolutions Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail? Research suggests that part of the challenge is that the actual resolutions are too large/complex/difficult to achieve (e.g., I will lose 30 pounds by June 1st). And when we inevitably fail to reach the goal, we give up, telling ourselves “Well, I guess I just can’t do […]

Why Process is So Important

January 15, 2020

Why Process is So Important One of my favorite business authors is James Clear, who writes all about habit creation and management. The more I read, the more convinced I am that data management relies heavily on habits. Here’s a quote from Clear: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level […]

The Significant Change of SaaS Software

January 7, 2020

The Significant Change of SaaS Software One of the most significant technological changes in the AMS world is the advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS). While SaaS brings many significant changes compared to the old “buy the software” model, the two most significant are pricing and updates: In the old days (now almost gone) you bought the […]

Always, ALWAYS budget for more training

December 18, 2019

Always, ALWAYS budget for more training Always, ALWAYS budget for more training. I don’t know how else to say this. But for 98% of all associations implementing a new AMS (or any major new system), the training budget needs to be increased, not decreased. Yes, I know; systems should be more intuitive; there should be more online, on-demand […]

We’ve always done it that way

December 11, 2019

We’ve always done it that way A couple of weeks ago I wrote about approving memberships, and how some associations make it far too complicated. (You can read that here.) It’s a good example of “we’ve always done it that way.” Anyone who has been around for more than a few days has probably encountered this line. “We’ve […]

Are you sure it doesn’t do that?

December 4, 2019

Are you sure it doesn’t do that? Even after 20 years of consulting, I’m surprised at how often I’ll hear from my clients “Our AMS doesn’t do that” when I know that the AMS does, in fact, do “that.” Usually, this is because staff has asked other staff about whatever “that” is, rather than going directly […]

Be grateful

November 27, 2019

Be grateful As Thanksgiving approaches here in the US, I’m reminded of two words: Be grateful There is so much to be grateful for in the world, but I’ll limit my gratitude to data management. We should be grateful for ALL of the amazing technology advances in the past 20 years that have made data management so much easier, […]

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