Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Ten Lessons Learned

Are you up to your ears in spreadsheets? Do you store data in several places?  Do you cry when you look at your organization’s website? Yet, the thought of transitioning to a new system can give you a horrible pain in the pit of your stomach.

When I get that feeling I’m reminded of the book, Who Moved My Cheese?, which is a simple parable about change. Here’s a short video clip from the movie. Two mice and two small people, Hem and Haw, realize that something has happened to their cheese. They face unexpected change. One deals with it successfully and writes what he learned on the wall of the maze.

The point is, change is hard, and you never know exactly what to expect.  But, in the end change is usually good.

I know the pain of change. The Center was faced with it two years ago. With some research, the right consultants, and a staff dedicated to making a huge leap forward, albeit a little hesitant, the Center began a big change.  We began the work to transition our database from Access to Salesforce and to move from a home-grown website to a content management system.

We wanted to propel ourselves forward by eliminating duplicate data entry, automate many of our manual processes, and create a user-friendly and engaging website that featured our Members.

It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve faced hurdles along the way.  In sharing my experience with others, I realized that like Hem and Haw, I wasn’t alone.

My colleagues (Amanda Byrne, IT director for Carolina Tiger Rescue, and Brant Schlatzer, developer and consultant for hesketh.com) and I created a list of lessons we’ve learned to share with participants at our 2012 Statewide Conference.

We hope these lessons learned are like the “writing on the wall” to help you avoid some of the hurdles in your maze.

Paula Jones is director of technology at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and has served with the Center for eight years

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