I get this question a lot from my clients, especially “smaller” clients (those under 25 staff). This issue becomes particularly relevant when the association has implemented a new organization-wide association management system for the first time.
As a very general rule of thumb, I think once an organization has reached 25 staff, it’s time to have a full-time database management person.
Note that I’m not saying hire an “IT” person. These days, outsourcing your infrastructure management is relatively painless. But active management of your database is critical, and I don’t think it’s something that can be outsourced or managed part-time, and I don’t necessarily believe it’s best placed in the IT department.
In fact, when I think of my most successful clients, most of them have responsibility for management of the database outside of the IT department (it’s often in the membership department).
Of course, my rule of thumb is just a guideline. Some of my clients have a full time data management person with only 15 staff.