What’s On Your Mind – Results of My 2016 Two-Question Survey

Over the past nine years, (off and on) I’ve conducted an unscientific one-question survey, asking associations to tell me the first thing that is on their mind regarding data and database management. This year, in addition to the usual question, I added a new question, asking respondents to rate their own level of data management (not compared to others, but how they feel they are doing themselves). More on that in a bit.

What’s on Your Mind?

I received over 200 responses to the survey. The issues raised are similar to years past, but there were some significant differences, as well.

A couple of items that jumped out at me:

  1. More attention is being paid to the customer interface – Since the first of these surveys nine years ago, integration between the database and the website has been an issue. But the difference here is that more associations are starting to pay attention to what the customer experience is like. It’s no longer “does the database talk to the website” but rather “what is it like for the member or customer to join, or renew, or register for an event?” This is a good development.
  2. “Capturing data” is now a category of its own. Typical responses include “Data integrity” and “cleaning up duplicate data.” This suggests to me that more associations have control of the foundational aspects of their systems (i.e., they have technology in place and it’s generally working) and now they can focus on the data they really want to collect. This is also a good development.

The results look like this:

Rate your data

The second question the survey asked was the following: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the effectiveness of your organization’s data management (Note: This is how you would rate your organization, not how you think your organization compares to others.)”

The results:

No one rated themselves perfect, but nearly 40% of the respondents rated themselves pretty good or better.

On the flip side, 17% of associations rated themselves pretty bad to awful!

And just over 40% rated their data management as “good enough.”

So in the main, most associations (over 80%) feel like they are doing “good enough” or “pretty good” with their data management. At the same time, nearly 20% feel like they are doing pretty bad or awful. So there is still a lot of room for improvement.


As I’ve written many times before, data management is a process, not an event. This requires associations to be vigilant in their data management. It means having the right people, processes, and technology in place to ensure that our data is managed effectively and is of high quality. Ultimately, that the data is useful and can help the organization advance its mission.

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