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“That which no one owns, no one will care for”

I’ve seen this quote attributed to Aristotle, among others. Not sure who said it, but it rings true when it comes to database management.

I’ve long been an advocate of decentralized data entry. (See here and here.) But what’s missing in all of this is that while data entry can be decentralized, overall management of the system cannot. Because that which no one owns (or in the case of the data, all of us own), no one will care for.

What I’m seeing more frequently in associations is that job descriptions are including specific data management responsibilities. For example, I’ve seen things like the following included in job descriptions:

  • Develop and manage standard reports as needed for all staff throughout the association, producing reports when possible, or interfacing with technical consultants as needed. Exercise good judgment and sensitivity in understanding users’ evolving needs, to maximize the usefulness of the database.  Produce ad hoc reports as required, using SQL programming language to export data from the underlying database.
  • Work closely with the Director, Marketing to ensure all relevant data are being analyzed and used to maximum potential in marketing membership, workshops, publications, and other association products and services. As needed, collect additional data, either from members, or from outside sources related to institutional demographics.
  • Primary responsibility for management of all facets of dues billing and collection.
  • Manage collection and entry of full contact and relevant demographic data related to members, potential members, and non-members, ensuring the continual and smooth flow of information from association staff to appropriate recipients.
  • Play a key role in managing database-user relationships. Work closely with internal staff on the use of the information management system, and the continued improvement of data collection and data entry procedures. This includes communicating with all users on a regular basis to ensure that feedback on data accuracy and system functionality is being received and acted upon in a timely manner.

By putting this information specifically in one or more job descriptions, the association is holding this position responsible for data management in critical areas. This is one step closer to creating “ownership” of the database.

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Testimonials

“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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