Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Give your staff more freedom, not less

May 18, 2022

Give your staff more freedom, not less I often tell my clients, when it comes to data management, I’m a big liberal; I believe you should give as many staff as possible the ability to edit data within your data management system (with proper training, of course!). The point of a centralized data management system is not just …

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My advice? Stop doing that

May 11, 2022

My advice? Stop doing that! There is a classic TV sketch featuring Bob Newhart as a therapist. He helps his patients overcome their issues by using two magic words: “Stop it.” (You can see the clip here: https://youtu.be/4BjKS1-vjPs) The sketch is funny because his advice is incredibly simple but obviously very difficult to apply. Remarkably, this …

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Is a college degree really required?

May 4, 2022

Is a college degree really required? I saw a job listing last week for an entry-level position at an association, seeking a data manager. From the job description, the position was focused on managing member records and doing some light querying, reporting, and data analysis. The association was seeking someone with one to three years of experience. …

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Small actions become big wins

April 27, 2022

Small actions become big wins I’ve written before about how data accretes, the idea that over time, we accumulate more and more data that becomes increasingly useless over time. While this is a never-ending challenge of data management, another truism is that small wins accumulate over time. In other words, one of the ways to combat …

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Try not to OFFEND your members…

April 20, 2022

Try not to OFFEND your members… I recently received an email from an association where I’ve been a member for nearly 30 years. In that time I’ve provided hundreds if not thousands of hours of volunteer time to them. The first line of the email read: “Wes, have you ever considered volunteering for [association name]?” You …

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How will you use that data?

April 6, 2022

How will you use that data? One of the beauties of technology today is how easy it is to collect data. Add a field to your database, set up a survey, collect the data. Couldn’t be easier, right? But there are several trade-offs involved (as there always are!). One of those is that odds are good that …

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Pennywise and pound foolish

March 30, 2022

Pennywise and pound foolish One definition of the phrase “pennywise and pound foolish” is to “describe something that is done to save a small amount of money now but that will cost a large amount of money in the future.” I think of this a lot when working with my clients, especially when they are …

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How you respond matters

March 23, 2022

How you respond matters Very recently I wrote that I measure customer service by how a given company reacts to a problem. I’m impressed when a company takes ownership of a problem and seeks a mutually agreeable solution, rather than trying to make excuses or shift blame. The same attitude can (and should!) be applied …

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Your one non-renewable resource

March 16, 2022

Your one non-renewable resource For any project, the three primary resources are time, money, and people. And with any project (and in life itself) the only resource that is non-renewable is time. You can always find more money and you can always add more people, but you can never recover time spent on a project. (Yes, you can …

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No system is perfect

March 9, 2022

No system is perfect When working with my clients on the selection of a new system (whether it’s an AMS, a CMS, or any other software product) I stress over and over again that they will not find a “perfect” system. (As I like to joke, if a perfect system existed, I would own it …

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Ask your members to update their info

March 2, 2022

Ask your members to update their info One of the greatest data management challenges any association faces is keeping individual contact information up to date. As I like to tell my clients, “Your members don’t care about you until they need something from you.” This means they’re not going to proactively tell you when their contact info …

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Customer vs. staff

February 23, 2022

Customer vs. staff In a properly designed AMS, when the customer goes online to your website to do business with you (e.g., join, renew, register for an event, buy a product), the website is interacting directly with the AMS. In other words, any data changes being made by the customer are going directly to the database …

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Measuring customer service

February 16, 2022

Measuring customer service When I work with clients on AMS selection, one question that often comes up is: “How good is the software company’s customer service?” “Customer service” means different things to different people. For example, here are the customer service complaints I most commonly hear: “They won’t let me talk to a human. All …

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Iterate or innovate?

February 9, 2022

Iterate or innovate? When moving to a new association management system, there is often an implicit question of whether the move is for iteration or innovation. The beauty is, it can be both. Iteration is doing the same things, but better. Innovation is doing new things that create new value. For most of my clients, the focus …

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Who is in control?

February 2, 2022

Who is in control? Speaking with a client once about their database project, the client said something I found rather profound: “I want to feel like I control the database, not that the database is controlling me.” There’s a lot going on in that statement, and there are a lot of elements that affect whether …

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Sometimes Staff Has to do the Work

January 26, 2022

Sometimes staff has to do the work… As a child, I was attracted to computers because of the games. As a young professional, I was attracted to computers to make my life easier (because I’m inherently lazy!). So when I work with my clients, I love to automate as much as can be automated. But sometimes …

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Documentation and the Great Resignation

January 19, 2022

Documentation and the Great Resignation Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve heard of the Great Resignation. (If not, just google it; 2.47 BILLION results…) It’s possible that your own organization has been hit by it. The immediate effect is that you’ve got even fewer staff to help with the everyday work that needs to …

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Data Management Strategy

January 12, 2022

Data Management Strategy Do you know what your data management strategy is? If you have one written down, congratulations! If you don’t, well I have news for you: that IS your data strategy. You have a data strategy, whether you know it or not. It’s your choice as to whether it was created actively or passively. …

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It’s always about trust

January 5, 2022

It’s always about trust When I work with clients on almost any data management project, a very common theme is one of trust. Or more specifically, a lack of trust in the data that’s in the primary system. This is reflected in the way staff talks about the data, very often saying things like “I …

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You can’t outsource buy-in

December 16, 2021

You can’t outsource buy-in One factor consistent with all of my most successful projects is that there is strong buy-in from staff. That is, the staff works very diligently to ensure the success of the project. They allocate the needed time, they learn what they need to know to be successful, and they execute on …

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