Monthly Archives: September 2015

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

Wes Trochlil’s Data Management Tips for Organizations of Any Size

Image of businessperson pointing at document in touchpad at meeting

I had the pleasure of attending #AMSFEST last week. #AMSFEST was hosted by ReviewMyAMS, which is an online directory of association management software (AMS) providers and reviews of their software. The entire site is user-generated. I love it! Anyway, back to #AMSFEST.

The last session of the day was by Wes Trochlil, CEO of Effective Database Management, and he shared his Top Data Management Tips. As I’ve come to expect from Wes, the session was packed with good information for all organizations, no matter what their size or AMS.
  1. Establish data entry guidelines and user guides. Your users need to understand what and how information should be entered. Example: do you use St. or Street or STREET? Data that is entered inconsistently will give you inconsistent data.
  2. Create a user guide. This guide details the steps that staff should follow when members interact with your association. Example: how do we process a new membership? What do we do when an individual leaves a member company and goes to work for a non-member company?
  3. Have formalized training for new staff. It can be done in house, or it can be outsourced. Have a schedule for your training. Have repeat training for important functions or tasks that get done infrequently.
  4. Train senior management on the database. Don’t train them on HOW to use the database. Tell them what’s IN the database so they know what data and reports they can ask for.
  5. Eliminate shadow systems. Every organization has files in Outlook, Word, Excel that house member and transaction data. If this data is maintained separately and never goes back into your database, you have a shadow system.
  6. Don’t manage to the exception. Example: You have eligibility rules for membership so you don’t process payments until prospects have been approved. If most prospects are approved, go ahead and accept payment up front.  That way, you’ve already collected the money and you only have to send out a few refund checks a year.
  7. Capture all contacts in your database. Some organizations only capture member information or just the primary contact at member companies. Wes says (and I totally agree) that this is a mistake. You should be capturing non-members who attend your conference, membership prospects, press, legislative and regulatory contacts, etc.
  8. Track non-financial transactions. It’s easy to focus on the financial ways members engage with you. But non-financial interactions often represent deeper forms of engagement. Examples: committee participation, speaking at conferences, writing articles for the magazine, etc.
  9. Run data integrity reports regularly. It’s inevitable that you’ll have invalid or incorrect information in your data. So run data integrity reports regularly to catch the problems. Examples: company members with no primary contacts, individuals with no emails, records with invalid emails or web addresses, etc.
  10. Start an internal users group. An internal users group will help staff share database tips and tricks, facilitate cross-training, and be a source for database improvements.
  11. Practice database PR. Tell your staff regularly about what’s going on with the database. Tell them about what’s working. Talk about improvements. This way, the conversation isn’t always about how the database sucks.
  12. Pursue success, not perfection. Since perfection costs too much and is a moving target anyway, let’s pursue success. Instead of focusing on getting 100% of your records to be accurate and clean, how about a goal of 20% fewer bounces in your next email campaign?
This is a great list to review with the person or persons who manage or oversee your database. In honor of #12, what two or three things can you do differently in the next six months that will make your database better?