It’s time for your association to create a data records manager position

Several years ago, I suggested to a client of mine that they needed to add a new position to their staff, a position I called the data records manager. What I meant by this was someone responsible for making sure all the data within the organization was being managed appropriately. Interestingly, since that time, the for-profit arena has seen the rise of a position called Chief Data Officer (CDO).

My client asked a very good question: “If we’ve gotten by for the past ten years without a data records manager, why do we need this position now?”

I answered the question of why in this blog post. There is no question the need for the position, or at least the responsibilities related to the position, should be addressed by every association. If your current staff responsibilities don’t include these areas, then they either need to be added to existing staff responsibilities or an entirely new position needs to be created.

The data records manager (DRM) should have the following responsibilities: 

  • Knows where all the data in the organization is managed, including what the data is, who manages, where it is managed (i.e., in what systems), and how the data is managed. Communicates this knowledge to the rest of the organization.
  • Works with all staff to ensure data integrity and data quality. This means that processes are documented (see next point) and data integrity reports  are developed that will help identify errors in data and potentially errors in process.
  •  To that end, the DRM, in conjunction with other staff, develops data entry standards that are universally adopted and used by all staff. In addition, documentation of all processes should be established and maintained.
  • Ensures that data redundancy is minimized and addressed through integrations and single-sign-on. Most associations these days have multiple sets of data and lots of redundant data (e.g., a primary membership database and a separate event registration database). The DRM works to ensure that these systems can talk to each other, or at the very least are sharing information in order to avoid massive amounts of redundant data.

Through active data management, the ultimate goal of the DRM is to ensure that staff and customers have a positive view of the data within the organization and are using the data to advance the organization’s mission. A successful DRM will develop a virtuous cycle of data management that will be self-reinforcing. 

It’s time. If the responsibilities outlined above are not included in anyone’s job description you must determine how to incorporate them in your organization.


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