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What are your database success metrics?
25 October 2011, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

How do you know if you’re being successful with your existing data management system? For most organizations, the primary metric is “lack of complaints.” That is, if no one is really complaining, then the system must be working. Right?

Not necessarily. What I often see when I work with my clients is that a lack of complaining really reflects that the complaints are no longer being heard. And what this means is staff is finding ways to work around the existing system. Sure, they’ve stopped complaining, but how much damage is being done with shadow systems, data that isn’t available to all staff, and so on?

So what are some good database success metrics? The best measures are those that measure true value of the system. Some examples:

  • What is email and snail-mail deliverability like?
  • How many staff have access to the system?
  • How many staff actually use the system? And how frequently?
  • Can we use the data for segmenting our audiences and effectively communicating with them?
  • How many transactions are self-serve (i.e., the customer took care of him or herself) vs. staff driven?
  • How easy is it to determine lifetime value of your customers?
  • Can you easily measure the level of engagement of your members, especially at a volunteer level?
These are just a handful of metrics that could be measured and tracked over time, to determine if your database is serving the needs of your organization. What else would you add to the list?
About author:
  • I would add, “Who is doing your data entry?” You touch on this with your bullet “How many transactions are self-serve?” and maybe I am just saying the same thing with different words. The point is, I see many organizations doing data entry when a client/customer could do it. By using web forms and some kind of import method (e.g. ODBC, scheduled cron job for a CSV file, etc.) organizations can reduce their data entry time.

  • Daniel, very good point. Associations should look at where the bulk of the data entry is being done, and try to determine if some or all of it can be pushed to the customer.

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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

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Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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