Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

How to avoid the “IT black hole”

July 20, 2022

How to avoid the “IT black hole” Going all the way back to my days as an association staffer (more than 30 years ago) I’ve encountered what I call the “IT black hole.” The IT black hole is where technology issues go to die. Perhaps you’ve experienced this. You report an issue to your technology staff […]

The “People” are important!

July 13, 2022

The “People” are important! I’ve written a lot about people, process, and technology over the years. This is the three-legged stool of success for any technology project (and these days, for any project at all!). My writing has focused mostly on process and technology because process and technology are usually easier to change. But I […]

Always look for the MVP

July 6, 2022

Always look for the MVP I first wrote about minimum viable product (MVP) just three years ago, but the term itself was coined over 20 years ago. But I’ve been thinking about this more and more with all of my new projects, for one significant reason: Even compared to five years ago, much less 20 […]

The longer you take, the longer it will take

June 29, 2022

The longer you take, the longer it will take It may sound like a tautology, but the longer you take to complete a project, the longer it’s going to take to complete it. Put another way, every day you add to the final launch of the project increases the odds that you’ll add even more […]

Data is for action

June 22, 2022

Data is for action When deciding whether or not to collect a piece of data, there is a simple question that will help you decide: “What action will I take on this data, either immediately or in the long-term?” If you can’t answer that question clearly, then you don’t need to collect that data. (Note: […]

Have you shopped yourself?

June 15, 2022

Have you shopped yourself? I’ve always been fascinated by the “secret shopper” concept. (Maybe it’s because I worked retail through high school and college). The concept is simple: Have someone “secretly” shop at your place of business, so you can experience exactly what your customers experience. My sense is that not many associations do this, and […]

To improve adoption, decrease the friction

June 1, 2022

To improve adoption, decrease the friction “Before you try to increase your willpower, try to decrease the friction in your environment.” – James Clear I’m a big fan of James Clear (who writes on habits) because so much of data management is about habits. What Clear is saying above is that if you want to change […]

“Is this normal?”

May 25, 2022

“Is this normal?” ne of the greatest parts about my job is that I get to work with so many different associations, which means I see all kinds of things that most of my clients never see. It also means I have a very deep perspective on how often something does or does not happen with associations […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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