“You can always add, but you can’t take away”

When discussing how much access staff users should have to the database and its functionality, I always tell my client “Give them the absolute minimum they need to do their job.”

My clients will often respond with “Let’s just give users access to everything and then over time we can determine what functionality they don’t use and turn that off.” This approach is understandable because it’s the path of least resistance. But it will also lead to trouble.

In my experience, if you give users access to everything at the start, but then take things away, users will be upset. EVEN if it is functionality they weren’t using! And I think the reason is pretty simple: Taking things away from adults, even if it is something they weren’t really using, is seen as an insult. The insinuation is that staff can’t be trusted with this. And staff will resent it.

But if you give them the minimum their job requires, and add new functionality as it is needed, rather than being resentful, staff will be happy to get the new functionality.

So remember: You can always add new things, but you can never take away what you’ve already given someone.

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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