The Life Changing Magic Of Good Data Management

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 12:00am -- jen@jvillagenetwork

synagogue databases

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is not about cleaning up your house, but your life. It’s all the rage on the bestseller lists and for a good reason. Her motto is “if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it.” Now, we can’t expect our data to always bring us joy, but we can reap some great benefits from a clean and organized system.

Whether your synagogue uses a desktop Contact Relationship Management System (CRM), a cloud-based CRM, or spreadsheets, properly maintaining your data is the key to having your data work for your organization.

Bring growth to your organization and increased member engagement by following these six tips.

#1: Appoint a Data Guru

A strong administrator is critical for the smooth operation of any data-driven organization. To ensure that your data remains clean, organized and up-to-date, give one person the responsibility of keeper of the data. Your data guru should develop and maintain the rules and guidelines for system use and facilitate any major changes in procedure/process.

#2: Think Cross-Departmentally

When you manage an organization-wide system (or a system used by a few departments), you need to be able to understand all relevant parties’ roles and needs. Consider how each part of the system impacts each part of your organization. For instance, how does your school data fit into the data scheme of the entire organization? Can the fundraising committee use the school data in order to target parents for a particular campaign? Think holistically instead of in terms of separate modules for each department or group.

#3: Employ Consistent Processes and Naming Conventions

Small inconsistencies grow over time and make for messy and hard to interpret data. Develop a system for who is considered Adult A and Adult B in each household. Then use a consistent naming convention for Households.

Duplicate this process for adding new members, removing membership status, and for changing records when someone passes away. Make sure to write it all down in a document that is accessible to the whole team.

#4: Take the time to Develop Good Data Collection and Reporting

Historically, synagogues used databases as a giant Rolodex. But, today’s databases can do so much more! The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation developed a Data Playbook just for Jewish organizations. This must-read guide outlines what data you should be collecting, the best methods for collection, analysis/strategic goal recommendations, and how to use the data collected to tell compelling stories about your congregation.

#5 Build Your Database Gradually

Big changes are hard for both you and your staff to incorporate all at once. Start small and test new functionality one by one. Set small milestones, so you and the organization can feel the progress without overloading your capacity. In smaller phases, you can take measured risks. These add up to more measured wins that will fuel your motivation, rather than an all-or-nothing approach.

#6 Create an Internal Guide to Using Your Database

This guide should outline core topics like naming conventions, new field creation, data deletion rules, and more. The guide doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should clearly state which staff are allowed to make changes in the database and what changes can only be made by the administrator. Any changes in procedure or new system functionality should be communicated in a clear and timely manner.

While Marie Kondo promises that her tidying method will keep your house perpetually clean, we all know that data maintenance is an ongoing process. But, who knows, if you follow our six tips, the process might just spark some joy in your workday!

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