With the recent release of my book, Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database, I’ve been asked by several people which of the tips are my favorites. So this next series of blog posts will focus on that. Each of these tips is reproduced verbatim from the book.
Tip # 38 – “Train” senior management
Perhaps the greatest fear among AMS managers is the thought of their senior management actually changing records in the database. Fear not. I’m not suggesting that you train senior management to process data in your database. What I am saying is that senior management should be taught what is in the database, and what the database is capable of doing. Put together a “training session” for senior management (including the CEO) that will outline what is in the database, how it is managed, who is responsible for managing it, and how the data are used. You will be amazed at the kinds of discussions that will occur in the room as a result of this simple exercise.
REAL LIFE LESSON —
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has 700-plus staff, more than 100 of whom work in the association’s centralized AMS. During training for database users, one user pointed out that she had learned as much about what other departments in NRECA were doing as she learned about how to use the database. When her boss heard this, he suggested that the senior management of NRECA meet to learn what was in the database and what it was capable of doing. Thus “Senior Management Database Training” was born.
The purpose of the “training” was to provide an overview of NRECA’s database so that each department head could understand what data was being captured, by whom, and for what purpose. The training consisted of a one-hour overview of all the data that was being managed in the database and by which department, followed by a one-hour discussion on how the departments could more effectively use the tools that were available to them. The session was a great success. At one point, department A learned that department B had already collected data that department A was about to survey the members to obtain. With this one meeting, not only did NRECA staff save time and money by not surveying their members for data they already had, but they saved themselves the embarrassment of asking their members the same question within a couple weeks of each other.
You can buy the book here in e-book or printed version.
“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.”
“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.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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