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Take snapshots of data
29 January 2016, by , in Data Management, No comments

One of the most common requests I hear from my clients is the ability to compare year-over-year statistics on things such as membership counts (e.g., how many associate members did we have last year on January 1, versus this year?).

Year-over-year comparisons can be very useful. But one of the challenges that a dynamic database presents is that it can be tricky if not impossible to query for historical data. Because the database and its data is always in flux, it’s possible that over time, data may change (or be deleted, and these changes can affect historical counts.

As a simple example, suppose you have 500 individual members in your organization on January 1, 2014. During the year, one of those members dies, so they are removed from the database. When you go to query the database on January 1, 2015, the count will be off by one, because the data has changed.

This is where snapshots of data are very useful. Snapshots are just what they sound like: a picture of the data at a given point in time. The most common snapshots I see among my clients is snapshots of membership counts and event registration. But others might be useful, too, like donor information, sponsor information, exhibitors, and so on.

So if you’re interested in doing year-over-year comparisons on key data points in your database, a snapshot of that data might be the smartest way to go.

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“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

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

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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