“We run the report three times and get three different results.”

"We run the report three times and get three different results."

"We run the same report three times and get different results."

In my 21 years of consulting, I've probably heard this (or something similar) dozens, if not hundreds, of times.

What the user is usually saying is that when they run two different reports or queries that are called the same thing (e.g., "All Members"), the result set is different. The perception is that the data is bad or the software has a bug. But what's really happening is they are running two different reports, with different selection criteria behind it. While both reports are labeled "All Members," they are actually using different criteria, and thus getting different results.

This problem is widespread among associations of all sizes. The challenge is twofold:

  1. We need our queries and reports to be completely transparent. It has to be absolutely clear to the user what data the report is looking at and outputting.
  2. The "catalog" of reports and queries needs to be curated and cleaned up consistently and frequently.

As data managers, we need to be better at both of these things.

A timeless challenge of data management is the perception that the system or the data (or both!) is bad. When staff believes that running the same report three times produces different results, you've got a BIG problem on your hands. You have to work at keeping your queries and reports as clean as the data itself.

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

A change of systems requires a change of mindset

July 8, 2019

Every AMS vendor will tell you that the toughest part of implementing a new system …

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It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial

June 26, 2019

It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial I’m a big fan of the …

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Look for small wins

June 19, 2019

Look for small wins One of the toughest things about system implementation is simply how …

Look for small wins Read More »

Are you closing the loop?

June 12, 2019

Are you closing the loop? If your association does a call for presentations for any …

Are you closing the loop? Read More »

Declare victory and move on

June 5, 2019

Declare victory and move on The law of diminishing returns is the point at which the …

Declare victory and move on Read More »

Clean as you go

March 28, 2019

Clean As You Go A good cook or baker knows that, when working in the …

Clean as you go Read More »

Baby Steps

March 21, 2019

One of the keys to developing good data management habits is to be aware of …

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Success Requires Discipline

March 14, 2019

When it comes to data management, most of us know what to do; we just don’t …

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Take a moment to be grateful

March 7, 2019

Because we’re so focused on always improving what we have now, it’s easy to overlook …

Take a moment to be grateful Read More »

KPIs and Dashboards

February 28, 2019

I saw DJ Muller from MemberClicks speak on KPIs (key performance indicators). In his session …

KPIs and Dashboards Read More »

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