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.
“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”
“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan
“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”
Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance