One of the more common requests I hear from my clients is that they’d like to be able to compare year-to-year membership data (e.g., current number of members vs. same time last year or same time three years ago).
What they often find, however, is that pulling historical data from their primary transactional database can be problematic. Data in transactional databases can change over time, which can affect historical queries and reports.
The best way to address this issue is to take regular snapshots of key data or reports. For example, many of my clients run a monthly report of members (including total count, count by category and company/names). These reports are then saved in a shared or network drive so that they can be accessed by anyone on staff. This way, when the association wants to compare today’s member counts to some time in the past, a query is run for the current counts and then compared to any of the snapshots that have been saved over time.
Transactional databases are good for transactions. They’re not as good at keeping historical data (the older the data the less accurate it will be). This is where snapshots can be a lifesaver.
“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.”
“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.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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