Five things you can do to improve data management in 2015

As the new year begins, here are five specific actions you can take to improve how you manage and use data:

  1. Create an internal users group and meet frequently. Every client I’ve had who has taken this advice has reaped benefits from it. If your data management system is relatively new, more frequent meetings (weekly) will be necessary. But whether you’re meeting weekly or monthly, make sure you consistently meet internally to discuss what is working, what is not working, and how you as an organization can improve data management and usage in your organization. Simply communicating on a regular basis can provide huge advances in how you manage and use your data.
  2. Review and update your SOPs. You have your standard operating procedures documented, right? If so, review those to see if procedures have changed, and if so, update the SOPs to reflect those changes. If you’ve gone through a software upgrade since the last time the SOPs were updated, it’s almost assured that processes will have changed and the SOP documentation should be updated to reflect that.
  3. Eliminate processes that are no longer necessary. This is a natural outgrowth of reviewing your SOPs, but it is critically important to creating new time for higher value activities. If you haven’t reviewed your SOPs in some time, it’s very likely that staff is still doing things that no longer add value. One client of mine discovered that they were spending several days to create a 48-page report that really only needed to be three pages long. The new report now takes a couple of hours to produce.
  4. Review data channels, identify where data is now, and centralize it to the extent possible. Do you know where all of your data comes from? And do you know where it is stored once it arrives in your organization? Take an inventory of your data channels, and where possible, centralize the data (be it in your AMS or another data warehouse). Even the smallest associations tend to have data spread throughout the organization. Centralizing data will allow you to be more efficient with your data management (less redundancy) and more effective with marketing and communications.
  5. Try something new! Take a risk! Let’s face it, most associations are very risk averse. But taking a risk could lead you to new forms of non-dues revenue and/or provide much higher value to your members and customers. As long as the risk is related to your organization’s core mission, now is as good a time as any to give it a try!

Implementing even one of the ideas above can help you take your data management and usage to a new level in 2015.


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If you’d like to learn more about how EDM can help you with your data management challenges, contact me at (540)-338-9404 or email me at

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