What could possibly go wrong during implementation?

Last month I wrote about the key points of risk during the selection phase of choosing a new association management system. This month I’m discussing the key points of risk during the implementation phase.

  1. Data conversion. This is an area that most associations are aware of in terms of risk, and frankly causes quite a bit of panic among my clients. Depending on how much data you have, how many data sources you have, and how clean (or unclean) your data is, data conversion can be relatively easy or exceedingly difficult. One alternative is to not convert any data at all, but re-key only the data you need (as I wrote about here).
    [br][br]As I wrote here, data conversion is also an opportunity to do some spring cleaning. Cleaning up data prior to doing the data conversion will make the actual data conversion that much less painful and risky.
    [br][br]And finally, keep in mind my Rule of 100 and 1,000. Don’t automate data conversion that should be done by hand.
  2. Inadequate testing. In my experience, this is the single greatest point of risk. As I tell my clients, either you’ll test the system before you go live, or your members and customers will test your system AFTER you go live.
  3. These are just three of the risk points you face when implementing a new AMS. But addressing just these three will take you a long way toward a successful implementation and go-live with your new AMS.
    [br][br]A thorough testing regimen is absolutely critical to a successful system launch. Look at the most common processes you’ll be executing in your new AMS (e.g., membership join and renewal, event registration, product sales, etc.) and map out all the most common variations of these processes (don’t focus too much on the exceptions until the primary processes have been tested). Once you’ve outlined what needs to be tested, distribute test plans to the staff that will be assisting with testing, and provide them with scenarios for testing, and DEADLINES for completing the testing. Testing will help you identify what is working and not, but will also help you see first-hand what your customers will experience with your new system. This can give you great insight into the potential problems or pitfalls they’ll face, and will prepare you to answer questions once the system is live.

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