You'll make incorrect decisions. Acknowledge them and fix it.

A client of mine recently wrote the following to me:

“It’s so hard to set up a new database and decide how/where you want to track information when you don’t have a really good understanding of the database and how different fields/screens relate to each other. I think at some point when things slow down a little bit we might take another look at how we are using the database and see if there isn’t a better way for us to track certain information.”

Truer words were never spoken!

When I start a new system implementation with a client, I always open with these words: “We will make decisions now that later on will turn out to be ‘wrong,’ because we don’t have the benefit of future information. We will make the best decisions we can make, with the best information we have right now. But some of those decisions will be wrong.”

The simple reality is, no matter how good your vendor is, no matter how good your consultant is, and no matter how good your staff is, you will make decisions now, that, months or years from now, will look wrong. That’s just how it is.

What you need to do, aside from acknowledging this truth, is to set aside time in the future to review and adjust your processes, change your set up, and implement better ways of doing things, based on what you’ve learned from using the system.

Technology changes, data management rules change (hello GDPR!), staff changes, times change. What got you here won’t necessarily get you there. The ability to adapt to the changing environment is critical to long-term success.

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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