You may have invested a lot in your database software, which you may use in conjunction with a range of other technology systems, like project management software, time tracking software and productivity suites like Google Apps. This technology helps to keep your teams connected, and makes your work more productive and efficient. Because these tools are so critical to how you operate, you want to make sure you get the most out of them. In order to do this, it is important to review how your database and technology systems are working every quarter. Quarterly reviews can help you to engage in 3 useful database management practices in order to get the most out of your systems. This blog will outline these 3 practices.
1. Archive and remove low-value data
Quarterly reviews help you to continuously monitor and address data quality issues. Doing so can highlight low-value data which is no longer relevant to your goals or reporting needs. Keeping this irrelevant data in your system is dead weight, so you might want to consider removing it from your database systems and archiving it in Excel in case you need it later.
Archiving and removing data from your systems is an important data quality procedure. All database software gets loaded up with data over time. Sometimes a database clean up is needed to focus on the data that really matters.
So, evaluate the importance of your data with three questions:
- Is the data worth keeping?
- Is the data being used?
- Is the data valuable?
Then consider an archive and purge process to keep your database light, clean, and relevant. Be intentional about the types of records you remove from your system.
2. Define new goals and align data tracking to match those goals
Goals evolve and change with time, even in short periods of time. Changing assumptions, redefining what’s important, and learning new insights about real-time performance affect the definitions of your goals.
The primary purpose of database software is to capture and report on data that measures performance toward goal achievement. If goals change, the database must also change with them.
Therefore, it is important to evaluate your goals quarterly and create a new blueprint for your database systems if your goals change from quarter to quarter. A blueprint outlines the reports you need to measure progress toward your goals and then maps those reports into fields for data entry and data collection.
It’s no point sticking with an existing database structure when that structure doesn’t return the data you need to measure goal achievement. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your systems. Often, this may mean reducing the amount of data you collect, and archiving old data or turning off data entry fields that are no longer needed.
Your database should be relevant and dynamically keep pace with your organisation’s strategic plans.
3.Update standard operating procedures, user guides and other documentation
Following on from the previous point, if you need to make changes to the structure of your technology to ensure it aligns with your goals, then the processes you use to interact with your technology systems may have changed, and the documentation that guides your interactions with your technology systems (e.g., user guides) may have also changed.
So, with any change, you also need to make changes to the structure of your standard operating procedures, user guides, and other documentation, as these codify organisational knowledge about your technology systems. If someone transitions out of your organisation or knowledge is somehow lost, you always have a fallback in the documentation. In addition, these documents improve the quality, efficiency, and capacity of your work.
Having no user guides or standard operating procedures, or having outdated ones, can result in major challenges, particularly during times of staff transitions, loss of organisational knowledge, and changes to database systems. Up-to-date documents mitigate the risk of losing whatever investment you make in your software, ensuring you are able to maximize your investment in staff training, database upgrades, and the database’s core feature set.
Therefore, being organised, reviewing how you use software regularly, and not being afraid to make changes are the best database management practices you can do to maximise your investment in your not-for-profit database software.