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May 25, 2007

Assn. Standards = Oxymoron?

"XML" license plate
Originally uploaded by anirvan.
David Gammel announced the release of proposed standards from ASAE's data standards task force for AMS packages and related technology products. The standards, based on XML, should presumably make more efficient the transfer of data between associations, chapters, business partners, etc. I applaud ASAE and the task force for undertaking this effort. I know David has been very involved in this process, so I'm hereby giving a shout-out to D-Gam. Holla!

For an industry that touts the development of standards as one of its highest contributions to society at large, the association community has woefully few standards. I personally think more standards in association management would be a good thing. For example, it's virtually impossible to compare apples to apples as far as retention rates go, because it seems each association has their own peculiar way of calculating retention to fit their own needs. I'd love to see someone like ASAE develop and publish standards for computing key metrics like retention, lifetime value of a member, etc.

The prospect of data standards represents a huge opportunity for the association community, but forgive me if I remain pessimistic. Getting two associations to agree to any joint venture is not easy, and the likelihood of getting more than two to agree to something like this seems to decrease with each new entrant. If there is a ray of hope, it is that the technology providers need to adopt these standards, not the associations themselves. However, with associations as the end users, I could see them potentially blowing up any hope of data standards coming to fruition by their unwillingness to be bound to certain data standards within their technology systems.

Also, I question the ability of ASAE to pull together the consensus needed to move this project forward. I hope to be proven wrong. The development of data standards would be a big step forward for our industry.



Matt said...

Standards in certain industries are a tough thing to do. We are starting to work on them for AV systems. The question becomes "How good is good enough?" There are just too many opinions out there. I hope we are proven wrong and they are able to pull it together.

Joe Grant said...

Hey Ben,

Nice post. I recently joined the Project Management Institute to take their PMP exam. When I joined, I received a free CDROM with the PMBOK - Project Management Body of Knowledge.

This is essentially the Bible standard for project management and is a must read for anyone looking to take the PMP exam.

Of course I studied other sources, but it was nice to have a central document that served as the foundation to build on.

Now that I think about it, it sure would have been nice to have a CAEBOK - Certified Association Executive Body of Knowledge when I took the CAE exam years ago.

David Gammel said...

I hear and understand the critique. My experience with ASAE is that if enough members get behind an idea and push, it happens.

So, you can help us push by reviewing the draft and commenting (or having your IT folks to do so) and demand that your vendors to do so as well.

In other words, get inside the tent! :)

Joe Grant said...

Hi David,

I'd be happy to review the draft and provide comments.