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 over 30 years, 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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