Do you know how many sources of data you *really* have?

I’ve been working with a client recently on consolidating all of their data into a single data management system. They have an association management system that is robust enough to manage just about every data set they have, but they haven’t centralized all of the data yet.

As a first step in the process, we’ve worked with staff to identify all of the different data sets (staff calls them “lists”) that staff is managing. Along with identifying the lists, we’ve also identified who is managing the list, and what the criteria is for getting on the list.

This organization has approximately 50 staff. We’ve identified over 100 distinct lists that are actively managed in six different data management systems. The amazing part is that the vast majority of this data overlaps (e.g., same people, same contact information on multiple lists), which means that staff is doing redundant data management.

My experience is that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Almost every organization I work with, regardless of how sophisticated their data management system, is managing data outside of the central system. This includes things such as Outlook global distribution lists, listserver lists, committee lists, and more. And in most cases, redundant data entry is required. And we all know redundant data entry decreases efficiencies and increases the opportunity for error.

So do you know how many different data sources are being managed within your organization? Look around, you might be surprised by what you find.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, 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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