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Active vs. Passive Data Management
13 July 2007, by , in Data Management, No comments

The key to successful data management is not choosing the right AMS (though obviously that's critical) but rather how you use the AMS once you have it. My clients who are most successful are those that actively manage their database, rather than just allowing it to be used as a giant electronic card file.

So what are the characteristics of active data management? Here are some, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

  1. Proactively collecting data from members and customers. This means implementing practices like confirming data while on the phone with a member or customer.
  2. Establishing written documentation of processes and procedures, and updating them as needed. It's so simple, yet so few associations do it. Write down your business rules, document how you process data, to make sure data is managed consistently.
  3. Writing and regularlay executing data integrity reports. You can keep your database cleaner with data integrity reports that check for obvious data entry errors (e.g., bad email addresses, mismatched state and zip, incorrect membership data). But these reports need to be run on a reasonable periodic frequency.
  4. Actively reviewing business processes. If you're a manager, you should be asking for feedback from your data entry staff on how easy or difficult it is to process data within your system. And you should use that feedback to modify the way you do things. Make sure the process is easy for staff and customers.

As I said, the list isn't exhaustive, but if you're doing just these four things, you're far ahead of most of your association peers (and probably a lot of for-profit businesses).

What would you add to this list?

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Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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