Why You Should Have a Test Environment

Many years ago while working as an association staffer, I was trying to kill some time on a Friday afternoon. I was planning on leaving at 2pm to head to the beach for the weekend, and with only an hour left in the day, rather than starting a new project, I decided to dig around in my AMS.

I came across a menu item that I had not seen before, and based on what it said, I thought it would be cool to try it. (I can't remember what it actually did, but at the time, I was sure I needed to try it right now!) So I ran the process.

Ten minutes later, my IT director came into my office and asked "Have you been playing in the database? Because I just discovered that several tables have just been corrupted."

Yes, what I had done had destroyed several tables of data. Luckily, my IT director had back-ups, and within about four hours was able to re-build the lost tables. He did all this while I happily headed to the beach to start my weekend early.

The moral of the story? Never test in a live environment. Of course, this assumes you have a test environment to play in.

I'm astounded to learn that many associations still don't have test instances of their database available for testing, training, and documentation. I think this is almost as criminal as not having a well-tested back-up system in place, as the story above illustrates.

So, does your association have a test environment of its AMS? And if it doesn't, why not?

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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