As I work with my clients it becomes clear that there are two “classes” of users when it comes to your data management system.

Some staff are managers of data (e.g., membership and events) while some staff are consumers of data (e.g., marketing, communications, government relations). And given these two classes of users, you have to strike a balance between them. If you focus too much on data management, you may make accessing the data too difficult for consumers. If you focus too much on providing data for consumers, you may turn off your members (e.g., asking for too much information too often).

What you need to do is establish business rules and processes that accommodate both data managers and data consumers. And your technology also has to support both classes (i.e., sophisticated enough to handle complex data needs, but easy enough for staff consumers to query the database and extract the data they need.

Look around your organization and see if you’re focusing too much on one class or another, and then figure out how you can better serve the underserved class.