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Before you distribute an RFP, narrow down the field with an RFI

(Project Management) Permanent link

Barbara sat with her colleagues in the back of the room exchanging discreet fist bumps. The board had just approved the budget for the new content management system (CMS). After the meeting, the CEO asked her to get a request for proposals (RFP) out as soon as they got back to the office, because the president wants the new system to be up and running before the annual conference. 

A few days later, she looked through the association buyers’ guide and the ads in the latest issue of Associations Now to find CMS vendors and consultants. She found 13 whom she thought might provide CMS implementation; she really wasn’t sure. Then she went logged into the ASAE Collaborate online community to ask for recommendations; she got 8 more names! She sent an RFP to all of them – 21 in total.

The consequences of a buckshot approach to RFPs

Barbara received proposals from 10 firms (about half of those she contacted), none of whom were among those recommended by Collaborate users. Why didn’t those firms respond?

First, several consultants have said on Collaborate that they no longer respond to RFPs like Barbara’s that are sent out with a “cattle call” or “spray and pray” approach. Thoughtful, accurate proposals require a great deal of effort on the vendor’s part; they’re not likely to go after a longshot when the association doesn’t narrow the list down to the most appropriate set of solution providers.

Second, she sent out the RFP without doing a thorough requirements analysis. Vendors didn’t have the information they needed to submit an accurate proposal, and they weren’t supposed to call her, so they didn’t bother.

Here’s what she’ll never know: 3 of the firms who declined to reply would have been a great match for the project. What a missed opportunity for the association – and the vendors!

A wiser approach to market research

You can have a consultant help you with the selection process or you can spend some time on market research. Here’s how we do it. 

After we get to know our client, we use our knowledge of the association technology market to help them pre-select a small field of potential partners. Then the match-making begins.

We introduce the client and a potential vendor to each other with an initial phone call, followed by a demonstration and discussion that’s targeted to the client’s specific needs (not the vendor’s bright and shiny object). The field is narrowed down and some (not necessarily all) of the potential vendors submit nuanced and informed proposals. There’s likely more dialogue and Q&A before a final decision is made and the winning vendor is chosen.

If you don’t have a consultant working with you on your requirements and selection, you need to do your own preliminary market research. Barbara was on the right track with her initial efforts – buyers’ guide, advertisements, Collaborate. But she should have talked to association peers, checked out vendor websites, and done some Googling.

She should have sent out a request for information (RFI).

An RFI doesn’t ask for same depth of information as an RFP, but instead helps to narrow down the field by finding out who has the relevant experience and expertise. You might compare an RFI to an employment ad. You’ll collect a lot of resumes in response to the ad (the RFI), but the real match-making begins when you call in the finalists to discuss their suitability for the job (the RFP). 

What does an organization typically include in an RFI?

  • A description of the project – its context (the “why”), challenges, desired outcomes, and success factors
  • Desired timeline
  • Technological environment – a description of the key systems that must integrate with the desired solution
  • Budget – if the budget is firm and therefore a major consideration

What does a vendor provide in response to an RFI?

  • A description of relevant products and services
  • An overview of experiences with similar institutions, projects, and integrations
  • Their approach to your toughest challenge
  • Customer service and support philosophy/practices
  • Any other critical factors that will help you make your “first cut”

After reviewing the responses to your RFI, the next step is to develop and distribute an RFP to just 3-5 firms. And that’s the topic of our next post!

Dave’s Top 10 Signs Your Project is in Trouble

(AMS, Association Management, Project Management) Permanent link

Top Ten

With apologies to Letterman… 

If any of these signs is familiar to you,
your project is in trouble.

10. Your business analyst is surprised that members have such a large decision-making role regarding the budget. 

Someone doesn’t know how associations work! Bless their heart, as they say in Nashville. Is this consultant going to be the right cultural match for your mission-critical project?

9. Senior staff seem uninterested in the new AMS and refer to it as “the membership database.” 

Uh oh, the CEO needs to get them up to speed quickly. They need education on the big, strategic picture – how the AMS will help the association fulfill its mission. Without senior-level buy-in, participation in requirements gathering, testing, and training will be difficult to obtain from the rest of the staff.

8. The governance director has been handling committee appointments the same way for 20 years and doesn’t intend to change now. 

System implementation provides an opportunity to improve the member experience and staff productivity. Leadership needs to step in and explain that processes may have to change if the association is to take full advantage of new technology. If staff resist change, expensive customization is often necessary, and the same old inefficient processes live on.

 cartoon guy napping under busy sign

7. A department head says his staff is too busy to participate in requirements gathering. 

Without staff input, requirements won’t accurately reflect business needs and the new technology won’t meet expectations. Before the project begins, the project manager must make sure the timeline is reasonable given department obligations, and the CEO must get a promise of cooperation from department heads.

6. A staff working group is in charge of the project. 

No one person has ownership or accountability – that’s big trouble. Everyone should have buy-in, but the buck has to stop somewhere.

5. Only the IT director knows the project plan and timeline. 

If you need the cooperation of staff, you must share the project’s goals, plan, and timeline with them. Otherwise, they won’t be committed. You’ll have trouble getting on their calendars and you’ll likely run into schedule conflicts. 

4. The stressed-out membership director is put in charge of managing the project. 

This is a recipe for failure. Project management takes 50-100% of someone’s time and requires specific skills and experience. Don’t make your staff try to do two full-time jobs.

3. Your colleagues don’t understand why they have to meet with the business analyst. 

If the project goals and expectations were not explained to them, they aren’t going to understand their role in the project. Didn’t anybody work to build a shared vision for this project?

2. There’s money in the budget for the system purchase and implementation – but nothing else. 

Projects are more likely to fail when requirements analysis and project management are short-changed.

drum set

And – drum roll – the number one sign your project is in trouble… 

Everyone, including the CEO, treats the idea of requirements meetings like a root canal. And they’re still wedded to “the way we’ve always done it.” Argh!

Culture starts at the top. Staff won’t see the positives if leadership doesn’t. Don’t move forward until you have the cooperation and commitment you need from your association’s leadership – the CEO and senior staff.

And don’t forget to brush and floss regularly…


Flickr photos, top to bottom, by Billychic, id-iom, and adoephoto

The 6 components of a good requirements analysis process

(AMS, Association Management, Project Management) Permanent link

butterfly metamorphasis

You know that moment in the board meeting when they approve the budget for the new AMS, CMS, or other system you’ve been lobbying for? Yes, that was a beautiful moment – but now it’s time to come down from your high and prepare yourself, your colleagues, and your leadership for the project that lies ahead.

You might think, “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I’m ready.” Maybe you feel ready, but is your association ready? Are they prepared for the most critical phase of a technology project – the requirements analysis phase?

Here’s what your association must have in place before starting the requirements analysis (RA) process.

1. Leadership takes ownership of the project.

As the project lead, you own the project, but your CEO and senior staff must behave as if they do, too. They’ve given their blessing to the project; in fact, they helped get approvals from the budget committee and the board. But you are going to need more from leadership if your project is to succeed. 

In the past, technology implementations like new servers or applications were mainly the concern of the IT department. Now, because technology is entwined with everyone’s job, system implementations involve a larger percentage of staff and budget than ever before, and that involvement starts during RA.

Leadership must come to understand how much business analysis, project management, and technical experience and expertise is needed to successfully select and implement new technology. They must be willing to dedicate the appropriate resources to all phases of the project, not just the implementation phase. Hopefully, you kept that in mind when requesting your budget. The RA phase of a project is too often given short shrift, yet that’s the phase that can make or break a project.

2. Staff is fully on board.

The input and buy-in of internal stakeholders is absolutely necessary to ensure project success. A representative of each department or position that will rely on the system must participate in requirements gathering. If stakeholders are left out or don’t dedicate sufficient time to the RA phase, critical functions or processes could be overlooked and the final product won’t fulfill business needs. Staff must also make time to review and approve the requirements documentation so they have a clear understanding of the project’s deliverables and a sense of ownership in the expected outcome – don’t underestimate that last piece!

3. Planners are mindful of departmental calendars.

When planning a project timeline, find out if your project team has responsibilities that must take precedence over the project. 

  • Are conference or education staff in the midst of a busy meeting cycle? 
  • Will staff be consumed with developing budgets for the board? 
  • Will lobbyists be unavailable because of legislative or regulatory hearings?
  • Are membership staff working on a renewal campaign or membership drive?

Coordinate with department heads to make sure staff will be available for the requirements, testing, and training phases of the project. If their participation is to take priority over other tasks, or if duties must be reassigned temporarily, the CEO and senior staff must make that clear from the start. In a tug of war between a project manager and a department head over someone’s time, the project manager will lose every time unless leadership has made it clear what must be done to keep the project on schedule.

4. Everyone gets behind a shared project vision.

Each stakeholder will come to the requirements gathering table with their own departmental agenda – that’s natural – but they must understand how that fits into the bigger picture. Do they understand the project’s goals and how they relate to the association’s strategic goals? You want to make sure the team “gets it.” They need to see the larger, strategic picture – how the new technology will help your association achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. 

5. No one is left in the dark.

Communication starts early with the CEO and senior staff communicating their vision, goals, and expectations for the project to everyone in the organization. Leaders clearly signal to staff that this is an organization-wide project, not a departmental project. You have a plan to keep everyone informed about the project’s progress. And you stick to it – keeping the lights on, so to speak, so no one is left in the dark.

6. Everyone has a positive attitude about change.

Let’s face it – a system implementation is a change management project. During the requirements analysis process, discussion about changes to business processes, workflow, and staff responsibilities can cause conflict, stress, and anxiety. Although it’s not always easy to let go of “the way we’ve always done it,” leadership and staff must resist looking backward so they can help your organization move forward.

Your technology project is more likely to succeed if you take the time to prepare your organization’s leadership and staff for their project roles and if your organization dedicates the appropriate resources up front to collecting and analyzing requirements.

Flickr photo by aussiegall

The unexpected benefits of requirements analysis

(AMS, Association Management, Project Management) Permanent link

insects on coneflowers

You may already know that a technology project is more likely to meet, or even exceed, expectations if you start with a requirements analysis. During this critical phase of a project, the requirements for your new system or application are collected, analyzed, and documented. 

But, did you know that requirements analysis (RA) also has a positive impact on an association’s culture, operations, and staff? We’ve learned from the hundreds of technology projects we’ve managed that the discussions and decisions made during RA are often as valuable as the solution selected.

Lay the foundation for progress

The project team spends hours discussing existing technology and organizational goals, culture, and operations during RA. These conversations often reveal opportunities to streamline, automate, or improve existing business rules and processes. 

When colleagues see the positive impact of these project-related changes, they become less resistant to examining and improving other processes.

For example, prior to implementing a learning management system, many associations restructure their education department’s business processes. After completing that project, an association might turn its attention first to improving related content management processes and then to content workflow processes for their website and digital media.

Once struck, the improvement spark is difficult to snuff out.

Discover new opportunities for increasing productivity and member value

During RA, the positive side of the project balance sheet is revealed. Besides new opportunities for improving productivity, the discussions surrounding requirements can also lead to decisions that positively impact the member experience.

For example, while discussing integration requirements for a new enterprise system, the team realizes they have data in various systems that can be integrated in a way that provides members with new insights about the value of their membership and the organization’s efforts. The integration requirements discussion was the forum and the catalyst that lead the team to realize this potential value proposition. 

Encourage collaboration and shared vision

Staff representing different departments show up for requirements meetings with their own agendas. But then they learn about and begin to understand the goals, needs, and challenges of colleagues in other departments. These discovery sessions offer opportunities for discussion that normally don’t exist in their usual work routines.

RA provides an opportunity for staff to think strategically about the bigger picture – how the new system or business process will help the organization meet its strategic goals. A shared vision for the project replaces their original, department-focused perspective. This new collaborative spirit helps to crumble silos.

Unleash progress

An association’s potential is unleashed during a successful technology implementation when the project team sets aside departmental agendas and works together for the greater good of the project. This potential can be tapped again and again to make further improvements to association operations or to create new membership value. It’s just one side effect of good requirements analysis!

Flickr photo by Robert Müller

Good idea or bad idea? DIY requirements analysis for technology projects

(Project Management) Permanent link

When you’re put in charge of implementing a new enterprise-wide system, you’re likely to end up as the office hero – or scapegoat. To a large extent, your fate will be determined by how well you handle one critical part of the project process: requirements analysis (RA).

The success of a system selection and implementation is dependent upon the way in which requirements are collected, analyzed, and documented at the beginning of the project. The question is: can you do it yourself, or should you hire an expert?

Uncover requirements that reflect your association’s real needs

One of the first things you should do in requirements analysis is talk to your organization’s leadership and project team about goals and expectations for the new system. Ask probing questions like:

  • How will it further the organization’s mission and business objectives?
  • What problems must it solve?
  • What functions must it perform?
  • Will it integrate with other systems or require customization?

The project lead must know how to uncover this information and guide the project team through difficult decisions. You must ask yourself whether one of your staff is fit to fulfill this role – and has the time, influence, and expertise to do so – or whether you need to hire a consultant who specializes in RA.

Gain staff cooperation and buy-in

When you put an inexperienced or potentially (albeit unknowingly) biased staff person in charge of a selection process, others may give all kinds of excuses for not attending project meetings, imply departmental favoritism, or refuse to even talk about business processes. If the person in charge of RA lacks objectivity and authority, your organization won’t end up with a clear and thorough assessment of your needs, and you’ll head into implementation with blind spots.

On the contrary, a seasoned business analyst (BA) will have a proven methodology for guiding everyone through the requirements process, as well as a fresh, objective perspective for analyzing the association’s business rules and processes. A BA knows which questions to ask to reveal issues and needs, and they can safely ask difficult questions. With a deep knowledge of the association technology market, they also know how to help associations leverage technology.

Establish a predictable budget and timeline

Often, when you’re thrown into a project or role without the appropriate experience or authority, you simply don’t know what you don’t know. You may think you have a solid understanding of your organization’s requirements and potential solutions, then realize through vendor discussions that your team hadn’t considered all the ramifications of the requirements. As a result, you spend more time wrangling with colleagues about details and processes, meanwhile losing staff, leadership, or board buy-in.

You can anticipate and prevent hiccups like these. Thorough RA prevents the likelihood of ugly surprises down the road – surprises that could affect the project schedule and budget. Once the requirements have been agreed upon and documented, the risks of a project creeping beyond its original scope and failing to deliver upon expectations are minimized.

Avoid expensive customization

Don’t fall into the trap of “the way it’s always been done.” A system implementation provides your organization the opportunity to take a new look at existing business rules and processes. If the best way to do things is a new way, then that’s what you should do. 

Sometimes, changing a process also prevents having to customize a system or spending more money. In fact, modifying processes to avoid customization can free staff to focus on your mission-critical work. Isn’t that a plus?

Provide accurate information to vendors and developers.

Good RA takes the mystery out of the matchmaking process. When vendors know exactly what you need, they can provide relevant demonstrations and accurate proposals. Neither you nor the vendor will find out too late that additional functions or customizations must be added. What a relief!

When you are ready to select a solution, a thorough requirements analysis process will ensure that you have everything needed in the requirements documentation to evaluate proposals. The same documentation informs vendor demos and is finally provided to your chosen vendor. It tells them virtually everything they need to configure your system.

You can do RA yourself, but you risk mutiny and, bottom line, misunderstanding how critical the requirements analysis process is to the success of a technology project – leading to a botched implementation and a wasted investment.

Flickr photo by Edwin IJsman

Blogger’s Digest: June 2014

(Our Company) Permanent link

30 Years Young

Last month, we celebrated [officially] our 30th anniversary. Thank you to all of those who’ve helped us prosper these many years. We’re continuing to celebrate throughout the year with 30 Acts of Appreciation for our clients, our staff, and our community.


Blogger’s Digest: June 2014

For most of us, it’s a short work week, so we’re keeping this blogger’s digest short and to the point. Here’s what you might have missed on our blog this month:


Upcoming Events

  • July 4: DelCor closed in observance of Independence Day. Get support at (Sorry, support not available for barbecues or fireworks!)
  • August 9-12: ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo, Nashville. Hang out with us in The Hive or at Booth 622! Check out our full Music City playlist.

Content Strategy Breakdown

(Web, Usability, CMS) Permanent link

Breakdown, go ahead and give it to me

How many times do you go to a website without a goal? Never, right? Most of us go to websites with very specific goals. Yet, if your association’s content doesn’t fulfill those goals, you’re wasting their time – even if you have the most stunning website design around.

On a scale of 1 to 10, a content strategy’s level of importance for associations is a 10. Yet, no one in my session raised their hand when I asked who had a content strategy – not a single organization out of about 100 in the room!

Why does content strategy deserve a 10? Because it connects your association’s value and purpose with your audience and their goals. Content management and governance provide the framework that your content strategy lives in. Let me explain: here’s the content strategy breakdown.

1. Assess your organization’s need for a content strategy. 

You don’t have a content strategy (or you have an ineffective strategy) if:

  • You’re overwhelmed at the amount of content you have.
  • You’re unclear about each content item’s purpose. 
  • You’re uncertain about each content item’s value.
  • You can’t identify and prioritize your different target audiences. 
  • You’re unsure of what successful content means.
  • You’re going to put your hands over your ears and loudly sing, “It’s alright if you love me, it’s alright if you don’t,” if you hear one more person say, “I can’t find X on the website.”

2. Assess your organization’s readiness for a content strategy. 

Is your association ready for a content strategy? You’ll more likely succeed if you have the following success factors in place.

  • Staff can relate content to organization-wide needs, not departmental silos. A content strategy will not solve your silo problem. In fact, you need to break down the silos to have a truly effective content strategy.
  • One person must have both the authority to make decisions about content and the accountability that goes along with it. Nice people who want to please everyone won’t get the job done. Neither will management by committee.
  • Your organization’s mission, vision, and business objectives must drive content decisions. You must be able to prioritize and develop a plan that fulfills those goals. 
  • You must have the support of leadership and appropriate resources for this undertaking. Without it, you will fail. A great way to get buy-in and funding for content strategy development is to show leaders videos of frustrated members trying to accomplish their goals on your website. (It is easy to capture these reactions in usability testing. Ask us how.)
  • You also must have the commitment of those on the content team. This isn’t a temporary project; this is a significant change in your organization’s behavior and priorities.

3. Research content strategy.

There’s nothing easy about developing, implementing and executing a content strategy. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s about an 11. Read as much as you can, talk to others who have gone through the process, and attend webinars and conferences. Expect to spend about 2 months on research. Talk to experienced consultants who can guide you.

4. Develop and implement your content strategy.

First, you must identify your different audiences and their goals. They might not all want the same thing. What is important to them? What is of value to them? How do you know that? Why do you think that?

Don’t trust your members’ and users’ feedback explicitly. Sometimes they don’t know what they want, so they answer surveys based on what they think they want (or how they think you want them to answer). Look at their behavior, not what they say. Check website and email analytics. Do market research. 

If you don’t have data to analyze, you will have to rely on surveys. Be very intentional about the questions you ask. Where are your members looking for information? Are you the source of information? Or do they find what they need through other sources like fellow members, vendors, new/traditional media, and other associations? 

You also need to think about your goals – your mission, vision, and business objectives. Your content strategy must align with and support your organization’s strategic plan.

It takes 6 to 18 months to develop and implement the actual strategy. The content inventory analysis alone is a HUGE but necessary undertaking, because you have to know what you have – this is your starting point. What is learned during the inventory phase is of great, great value to you and your team – don’t take it for granted. 

Web, social media, and print materials are all part of content strategy. And just to be clear, web content is not repurposed print content. Web is a different animal. Just because members and users like something in print doesn’t mean they’ll like/find/use it online and vice versa.

5. Implement content management and governance.

Your content strategy is a living document that must be managed and governed. Maybe your organization’s strategic plan lives in a big binder on the shelf, but your content strategy can’t and won’t. 

All content needs to be tied to an objective. Content must solve a user’s need, answer a question, satisfy curiosity, or lead them in the right direction. 

Be honest about the value of your content – not everything belongs on your website. If the data doesn’t show people using it, then they aren’t finding value in it, and it’s a waste of your resources. 

You can’t please everyone, so please the most important people: your target audiences. Staff (and their egos) aren’t the top priority.

Content must be findable and consumable. Give people the search and navigation tools they need to find content on your website. If your members are using mobile devices, your content needs to be mobile-friendly – just having a responsive website design may not be enough. You do have a mobile strategy, right?

Develop simple workflows for each content type. Don’t stall the content process with workflow issues. One person – the one with authority and accountability – drives the content process. Everyone else understands their respective roles and responsibilities. Trust your team and don’t micromanage.

Most people have not been taught to write for the web. Provide professional development for everyone in the content creation and management pathway. We can give you some recommendations.

Pay attention to your organization’s real-world and cultural constraints, or your content strategy and governance will fail.

6. Commit to analyze, refine, and tweak your strategy.

Nothing stays constant. Your audience’s needs and interests will change. Your capabilities will change. You must constantly listen, learn, respond and anticipate so you are one step ahead of your audience.

Dear Del: Help! I don’t have a test plan!

(Project Management, Tech Tips, Innovative Ideas, Dear Del) Permanent link

Dear Del,

I am part of a team to test an upgrade to my organization’s AMS. I was told I have to create a test plan. What is a test plan? (Don’t tell my boss I don’t have a test plan.)

Believe it or not, you have all the raw materials for a test plan; you just have to pull information together.

Start with standard operating procedures (SOP).

Develop a list of common tasks you perform using the AMS. This should include daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly processes.

_Dear Del_ college school girl daydreaming while writingNo SOP? Create a list of all major processes that are completed using the AMS, such as:

  • Create a new account or record
  • Membership join
  • Membership renewal
  • Payment processing
  • Closing a batch/month end processes
  • Event registration
  • Product sales
  • Committee management
  • Reports/outputs

After you create the list, develop a test plan for each area. Here is a format that may work for you.

  1. Purpose of test case
  2. Frequency
  3. Steps to perform process
  4. Expected outcomes
  5. Related activities (reports, email message, etc.)
  6. Include a few ‘real life examples’
  7. Refer to real forms when testing (use a batch from the past that is not included in your test site)

Second, develop a list or location to store test plans.

This should include a form or location to document failed test cases or questions. It’s possible that just one step within a process may fail. When you document a failure, identify the specific step(s) that failed. Make sure you prove all steps of the process with your vendor and when the failure occurs. Screen shots are always helpful; a picture is worth a thousand words!

Last, schedule testing with a buddy.

It is a lot faster to work in pairs; one person can read the case and document results, while the other performs the actions.

Good luck and happy testing!

P.S. Use your updated test plan to create or update your SOP.

— Gretchen Steenstra, PMP


LH/RH: Technology planning as a cure for ‘wild west’ technology

(Project Management) Permanent link

cowboy with pistol drawn

In past blog posts, I’ve talked about how a lack of coordination can hinder an organization’s efforts to advance its IT maturity. While it’s important for the left hand and right hand to coordinate efforts, and good communication and collaboration can pay off handsomely in terms of return on your organization’s technology investment, there is certainly more to the story. Without some sort of technology planning process in place, even the best-orchestrated initiatives may flounder.

To reap the benefits of effective technology or to be ‘innovative,’ your organization requires an overarching plan that lays out how technology will connect to your mission and vision. Without such a plan, things may devolve to a state of tech ‘lawlessness’ where it’s every department for itself. Like an architect without a blueprint, the IT department will be asked to bolt any and all new, shiny objects onto your existing infrastructure, which may have been purchased by various business units without even consulting IT.

Don’t let these ‘wild west’ tactics prevail at your association. Take the time to formulate a strategic technology plan that takes into account the major technology tools in play at your organization. You’ll be glad that you did. And you’ll avoid costly resource shootouts!

Flickr photo by peppergrasss

LH/RH: Avoid the blind men’s elephant and the tragedy of the commons

(Communications, Marketing, Membership) Permanent link

elephant family walking in a line

When working with associations to assess their use of technology, we often encounter situations in which the culture of silos leads to a myopic view of how technology is (and can be) used to further individual and collective aims.

In this sense, it can be much like the old story of a group of blind men who were assembled to describe an elephant. As each member of the group had hold of a different portion of the beast, they all described something totally different and thus failed to reach any sense of agreement.

Similarly, the tragedy of the commons is an economics theory, according to which individuals or groups, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group’s long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.

All too often, departments acting independently contribute to an uncoordinated approach to IT and squander funding available for technology initiatives – funding that may already be sparse. Whether the funding for such projects comes out of a departmental or central budget, it ultimately all comes out of the organization’s coffers, and thus, if applied recklessly, can lead to little or no return on the association’s technology investment.

On the other hand (see previous LH/RH post for intended pun), by creating a forum in which technology initiatives are routinely discussed, debated, and decided upon, an organization can better coordinate such initiatives and seek solutions that have broader implications for both staff and members. The forum would also provide a place where various departments might give voice to their future technology needs and uncover opportunities to collaborate with other departments, leading to efficiencies of scale and enhanced data sharing across the organization.

By establishing a safe space in which different elements of the association can work together to articulate and solve their challenges through the creative use of technology, your organization can avoid both the trap of the blind men’s elephant by putting the pieces together to form a cohesive whole, as well as the tragedy of the commons by effectively combining efforts to advance the whole enterprise.

Flickr photo by Fang-Yu Lin