The board doesn't understand
Yesterday, Rick Johnston asked why associations aren't digging deeper into business intelligence, and he suggested that uninterested boards might be part of the problem.
That sentiment was echoed during conversations in Sunday's "Under the Membership Tent: Executive Session" Learning Lab at ASAE's 2012 Annual Meeting & Expo. One participant said her biggest challenge in managing member data is getting funding approval from her board for upgrading the association management system. In short, boards don't understand data management.
I have two reactions to this:
- "No doubt." I'm sure every membership professional can relate. It's hard enough to understand all the intricacies and capabilities of an AMS as a staffer who works in it every day. Trying to explain it to volunteers is a chore. But …
- Whose fault is it if the board can't see the value of an enhanced AMS? That responsibility has to fall back to the staff. It's not the board's job to already understand data management. It's their job to hire people who do.
Fortunately, one of the session content leaders, Laurie Kulikosky, CAE, director, strategic development, at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, offered her experience: She said she spent close to a year interviewing staff about what they'd like to see in a potential new AMS. Then she presented that info to her board. She told them, "Here are all the amazing things we'd like to do, and here's why we can't do it."
Data management and business intelligence are, unfortunately, just not very shiny. They're complicated. Numbers scare people. The power of data is enormous, but it doesn't get the glory that other technological endeavors get these days. So find a way to make it shine.