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EVERY System has duplicate records. Get used to it!
10 January 2018, by , in Data Management, No comments

One of the most common challenges all of my clients face is duplicate records. And the simple fact is, even the very best managed databases have some duplicate records. They are impossible to avoid. Why? There are several reasons:

  1. Your members use multiple emails. As a result, they may create new records that your system doesn’t detect as duplicate.
  2. Your members use multiple names, including nicknames. One of my best friends in middle school was named John Christopher. He went by Max. Go figure.
  3. Your members move. Is James Smith from ABC company the same guy as James Smith at XYZ company? Maybe.

First we have to accept that we cannot completely eliminate duplicate records. But we can do things to minimize the number of duplicates:

  1. Ensure our technology has duplicate-detection functionality, both on staff side and customer side. At a minimum your system should be checking for duplicate email addresses, but possibly more than that.
  2. Implement data integrity reports that check for potential duplicate records.
  3. Make sure staff is properly trained so that as they enter data, they are first checking to make sure the individual doesn’t already exist in the database.

Duplicate records are a fact of database life. Get used to it. But be sure to have procedures and tools in place to minimize duplicate records.

 

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“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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