What are your database success metrics?

How do you know if you’re being successful with your existing data management system? For most organizations, the primary metric is “lack of complaints.” That is, if no one is really complaining, then the system must be working. Right?

Not necessarily. What I often see when I work with my clients is that a lack of complaining really reflects that the complaints are no longer being heard. And what this means is staff is finding ways to work around the existing system. Sure, they’ve stopped complaining, but how much damage is being done with shadow systems, data that isn’t available to all staff, and so on?

So what are some good database success metrics? The best measures are those that measure true value of the system. Some examples:

  • What is email and snail-mail deliverability like?
  • How many staff have access to the system?
  • How many staff actually use the system? And how frequently?
  • Can we use the data for segmenting our audiences and effectively communicating with them?
  • How many transactions are self-serve (i.e., the customer took care of him or herself) vs. staff driven?
  • How easy is it to determine lifetime value of your customers?
  • Can you easily measure the level of engagement of your members, especially at a volunteer level?
These are just a handful of metrics that could be measured and tracked over time, to determine if your database is serving the needs of your organization. What else would you add to the list?

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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