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When I help my clients through the process of selecting  a new association management system, they also get the benefit of reviewing  existing business processes and thinking about the people involved.

Every project is about people, process, and technology. Selecting a new AMS gives you the opportunity to review all three of those aspects of your organization: The technology you are using, the people managing the technology, and the processes used.

So when you’re considering a technology change (even just a system upgrade) think about using that time to also consider your processes and the people involved. Changing technology in a vacuum won’t provide as much value.

 

Reply at Effective Database

When I help my clients through the process of selecting  a new association management system, they also get the benefit of reviewing  existing business processes and thinking about the people involved.

Every project is about people, process, and technology. Selecting a new AMS gives you the opportunity to review all three of those aspects of your organization: The technology you are using, the people managing the technology, and the processes used.

So when you’re considering a technology change (even just a system upgrade) think about using that time to also consider your processes and the people involved. Changing technology in a vacuum won’t provide as much value.

 

Reply at Effective Database

Long ago, I defined business intelligence as a business process using data to make decisions. The key to the definition is “make decisions.” That is, to take action.

As consultant David Maister has said, we all know what to do, we just don’t do it. In other words, we don’t take ACTION.

A good idea is only an idea until we act on it. So look at your list of to-dos, and good ideas, whether it’s in data management or anything else. Which ones are you willing to take action on? Because only action matters.

Reply at Effective Database

Long ago, I defined business intelligence as a business process using data to make decisions. The key to the definition is “make decisions.” That is, to take action.

As consultant David Maister has said, we all know what to do, we just don’t do it. In other words, we don’t take ACTION.

A good idea is only an idea until we act on it. So look at your list of to-dos, and good ideas, whether it’s in data management or anything else. Which ones are you willing to take action on? Because only action matters.

Reply at Effective Database

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.

Reply at Effective Database

I was very pleased to read this recent article in Associations Now by Joe Rominiecki about the Society of Hospital Medicine’s efforts to make their online join process easier. From the article:

Last year, [SHM] reduced its membership application from 64 data fields down to nine required fields. At the same time, it has become “more aggressive” about its ongoing data-integrity efforts. Ethan Gray, VP of membership, marketing, and communications at SHM, says it was time to shift its focus from the join phase to after.

I’ve written before about the dangers of trying to collect too much information from members and customers, especially during the join or event registration process. That’s why I was so pleased to see SHM reducing the number of required fields for their membership process.

As we all know, it’s much easier to retain and existing member than it is to recruit a new one. So why not make the JOIN as simple as possible? Once you’ve got them as a member, then you can ask for all that other data you [think you] need.

Reply at Effective Database

I was very pleased to read this recent article in Associations Now by Joe Rominiecki about the Society of Hospital Medicine’s efforts to make their online join process easier. From the article:

Last year, [SHM] reduced its membership application from 64 data fields down to nine required fields. At the same time, it has become “more aggressive” about its ongoing data-integrity efforts. Ethan Gray, VP of membership, marketing, and communications at SHM, says it was time to shift its focus from the join phase to after.

I’ve written before about the dangers of trying to collect too much information from members and customers, especially during the join or event registration process. That’s why I was so pleased to see SHM reducing the number of required fields for their membership process.

As we all know, it’s much easier to retain and existing member than it is to recruit a new one. So why not make the JOIN as simple as possible? Once you’ve got them as a member, then you can ask for all that other data you [think you] need.

Reply at Effective Database

One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my 15 years as a consultant is the ability to listen. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are listening is simply this: when you’re in a conversation where you’re trying to learn something, let the other person finish their thought before you start talking.

I don’t know if it’s because everyone is in a rush these days, or that people are just trying to show how smart they are, but it’s amazing to me how often I see listeners interrupt a speaker in order to finish their thought or answer their question before the speaker has had a chance to finish. And of course, as often as not, the interrupter is answering a question that wasn’t going to be asked, thus wasting everyone’s time and requiring the original speaker to speak even more!

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand.”  My advice to you when you’re speaking with someone: let the other speaker finish their thought before you respond. You might just learn something!

 

Reply at Effective Database

One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my 15 years as a consultant is the ability to listen. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are listening is simply this: when you’re in a conversation where you’re trying to learn something, let the other person finish their thought before you start talking.

I don’t know if it’s because everyone is in a rush these days, or that people are just trying to show how smart they are, but it’s amazing to me how often I see listeners interrupt a speaker in order to finish their thought or answer their question before the speaker has had a chance to finish. And of course, as often as not, the interrupter is answering a question that wasn’t going to be asked, thus wasting everyone’s time and requiring the original speaker to speak even more!

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand.”  My advice to you when you’re speaking with someone: let the other speaker finish their thought before you respond. You might just learn something!

 

Reply at Effective Database

One of my data management commandments is that data should never have to be re-keyed. That is, once data has been entered into a system (e.g., the customer has completed a form online, or staff has entered data into a spreadsheet), that data should never have to be re-keyed again. Once data is in electronic form, it shouldn’t need to be re-keyed. I call this re-keying “data entry redundancy.”

But too often I find data entry redundancy in the associations I work with, and it is especially common in the accounting function. Over the years I’ve worked with several associations where key financial data was entered into the AMS, then exported into a spreadsheet, only to be re-keyed into the financial management software. The reasons for why this was happening are not as important as the reasons why this is a bad practice. Here are three reasons why data entry redundancy is very bad practice.

  1. It’s redundant work, which by definition means it’s inefficient. In other words, it’s taking you more time than it should to manage the data because it’s being entered more than once. That means it’s costing you money.
  2. It increases the opportunity for error. Every time data is entered there is the chance that it will be entered incorrectly. So re-keying data, by definition, doubles your chances of data being entered incorrectly. (And in some cases I’ve seen same the data being entered three separate times!)
  3. It’s an audit trail nightmare. As every finance department knows, during an audit, backup work for any transaction can be requested by the auditors. When the same data is being entered multiple times, tracking that data back its source becomes exceedingly difficult.

In my experience, most often data is being re-keyed because no one has taken the time to figure out how to automate the data collection or data transfer process. For example, for the vast majority of AMS systems, financial data coming out of the AMS can be exported into a spreadsheet that can be imported into the most common financial management software systems.

So look around your organization. Is data being keyed more than once? If so, you need to figure out how to make eliminate that data entry redundancy.

Reply at Effective Database

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