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Do you know how many sources of data you *really* have?
28 November 2007, by , in Data Management, No comments

I’ve been working with a client recently on consolidating all of their data into a single data management system. They have an association management system that is robust enough to manage just about every data set they have, but they haven’t centralized all of the data yet.

As a first step in the process, we’ve worked with staff to identify all of the different data sets (staff calls them “lists”) that staff is managing. Along with identifying the lists, we’ve also identified who is managing the list, and what the criteria is for getting on the list.

This organization has approximately 50 staff. We’ve identified over 100 distinct lists that are actively managed in six different data management systems. The amazing part is that the vast majority of this data overlaps (e.g., same people, same contact information on multiple lists), which means that staff is doing redundant data management.

My experience is that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Almost every organization I work with, regardless of how sophisticated their data management system, is managing data outside of the central system. This includes things such as Outlook global distribution lists, listserver lists, committee lists, and more. And in most cases, redundant data entry is required. And we all know redundant data entry decreases efficiencies and increases the opportunity for error.

So do you know how many different data sources are being managed within your organization? Look around, you might be surprised by what you find.

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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
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Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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