Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Write it down!

December 6, 2023

Write it down! If you’re in the market for a new AMS (or any new technology that has a breadth of functionality, e.g., LMS, marketing platform), before you start shopping and looking at products, you need to write down what you want out of the system. I’m surprised at the number of organizations I’ve spoken with over the […]

Why “weeding the garden” is so important

November 30, 2023

Why “weeding the garden” is so important One of the most important activities for maintaining quality data in your database is what I call “weeding the garden.” Simply put, weeding the garden means proactively managing your data, consistently, over time, rather than trying to clean up the data in one big effort once every couple of […]

It’s time to stop excusing association professionals

November 15, 2023

It’s time to stop excusing association professionals I worked in associations for nearly 10 years, and have worked with associations for over 25 years now. And over that time, I’ve heard some variation of the following thought (I’ve even expressed it myself): “You can’t expect the membership director to learn how to use the AMS; she’s not […]

More demos is not better

November 8, 2023

More demos is not better When I work with clients on selecting a new system, I try very hard to limit to three the number of systems that make it to the demo stage. (We’ll typically consider five or six systems prior to demos, but here I’m talking about demos specifically.) My clients will sometimes […]

The database owner should be “passionate”

November 1, 2023

The database owner should be “passionate” I’m frequently asked by my clients: “Who should we put in charge of the database?” And my first answer is “The person who is most passionate about the accuracy of the data.” I’ve written before about how there is no stasis in data management and that associations must be proactive when it […]

Discipline is required

October 25, 2023

Discipline is required Last week I discussed the importance of taking action. To manage data effectively, it takes more than just wanting to do something; you have to take action on your ideas. A corollary to that is that good data management also requires discipline. Put another way, once the idea is put into action, […]

Action is required

October 18, 2023

Action is required Over my many years of consulting, one thing I’ve noticed about many associations is their desire to do something without the commitment to do it. I call this the “wishlist effect.” Allow me to illustrate. It’s not uncommon for a client of mine to say something like the following: “We want to track […]

Some data analytics tips from the DAN “Science Fair”

October 11, 2023

Some data analytics tips from the DAN “Science Fair” Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Data Science Fair, hosted by the Data Analytics Network (the DAN). The set up of the Data Science Fair is great: Data stories are showcased on old school tri-fold boards (just like middle school!) and presentations are given for […]

Are all your processes frictionless?

October 4, 2023

Are all your processes frictionless? I’m not a huge fan of buzzwords, but I love the word “frictionless” as it applies to data management. Frictionless is a fancy word for making a process as effortless as possible. Or as I like to say, with a minimal number of hoops to jump through. When I work with […]

Trends don’t need perfect data

September 27, 2023

Trends don’t need perfect data When it comes to analyzing data trends (changes in data over time), it’s important to keep in mind that the data does not have to be perfect (data never is!) in order for it to be useful. In a conversation with a client recently, the client pointed out that their […]

Start with “Why” before you move to “How”

September 20, 2023

Start with “Why” before you move to “How” Something I’ve noticed over my years in consulting is that when there is a process problem the natural inclination is to ask “How can we make this process easier/better/faster?” But as often as not, the real question we should be asking first is “WHY are we doing this?” […]

The power of users groups!

September 13, 2023

The power of users groups! Last week I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at the NetForum Users Group Conference. I’ve always been a huge proponent of users groups (both internal and external) and sitting in the sessions prior to mine was a great reminder of their value. Here are just a few things I […]

Associations are complex businesses!

September 6, 2023

Associations are complex businesses! One of the reasons managing data at an association can be so challenging is because associations are very complex businesses. The simple fact is a typical association of almost any size is selling multiple product lines (e.g., membership, events registration, sponsorships, products, etc.) and very often these product lines have a broad range of variables […]

Snapshots are required

August 30, 2023

Snapshots are required Recently a couple of different clients have asked me why it’s necessary to take a snapshot of data (e.g., a member count) in order to track the history of data (e.g., comparing year over year membership counts). They ask: “Why can’t we just query the data from last year?” The answer? Because your […]

“It’s in the database…”

August 16, 2023

“It’s in the database…” I often joke with my clients that AMS nirvana looks like this: When someone asks “Where is the data about topic X?” the answer is always “It’s in the database.” Q: “Who were the award winners in 2019?” A: “It’s in the database.” Q: “Which meetings did this person attend in the past […]

Using the Pomodoro Technique for data management

August 9, 2023

Using the Pomodoro Technique for data management I’m a huge fan of the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management technique for breaking down larger projects into bite-sized pieces. I’ve found for someone like me who can be easily distracted, it’s a very effective way to stay on task. When it comes to data management, and especially […]

You need a PLAN to deal with duplicates

August 2, 2023

You need a PLAN to deal with duplicates Here’s the thing about duplicate records: No matter what you do, you’ll never get rid of them completely, because humans are human. Whether it’s a staff member creating a duplicate record because they forgot to check if the record exists, or it’s a customer who doesn’t want […]

Asking for more is a good sign…

July 26, 2023

Asking for more is a good sign… A client who had recently implemented a new AMS told me: “I’m concerned because even though we’ve only recently gone live, I’m already getting requests from staff for all kinds of new functionality.” I told her, “Believe it or not, that’s a good thing!” and went on to […]

Take action…

July 19, 2023

Take action… “The greatest wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data.” – Peter Drucker This is my favorite quote about data. As I always tell my clients, “Don’t collect data you’re not going to use.” And by “use,” I really mean “take action on.” Putting the data into a report and saying […]

The Rule of 100 and 1,000 revisited

July 12, 2023

The Rule of 100 and 1,000 revisited I’m finding that the “Rule of 100 and 1,000” comes up quite often in discussions with clients, so thought it was a good time to revisit it. (You can read more about the rule here and here.) I was recently talking with a client about how they should […]

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