Active vs. Passive Data Management

The key to successful data management is not choosing the right AMS (though obviously that's critical) but rather how you use the AMS once you have it. My clients who are most successful are those that actively manage their database, rather than just allowing it to be used as a giant electronic card file.

So what are the characteristics of active data management? Here are some, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

  1. Proactively collecting data from members and customers. This means implementing practices like confirming data while on the phone with a member or customer.
  2. Establishing written documentation of processes and procedures, and updating them as needed. It's so simple, yet so few associations do it. Write down your business rules, document how you process data, to make sure data is managed consistently.
  3. Writing and regularlay executing data integrity reports. You can keep your database cleaner with data integrity reports that check for obvious data entry errors (e.g., bad email addresses, mismatched state and zip, incorrect membership data). But these reports need to be run on a reasonable periodic frequency.
  4. Actively reviewing business processes. If you're a manager, you should be asking for feedback from your data entry staff on how easy or difficult it is to process data within your system. And you should use that feedback to modify the way you do things. Make sure the process is easy for staff and customers.

As I said, the list isn't exhaustive, but if you're doing just these four things, you're far ahead of most of your association peers (and probably a lot of for-profit businesses).

What would you add to this list?

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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