As an ETO software administrator, you may feel like you are getting pulled in many different directions, with queries from end-users and reporting requests from executives, mid-level managers or external sources like funders, in addition to the general administrative tasks required to maintain your ETO system. These demands add up, but it’s important not to forget about five specific ETO administrator tasks that you need to keep on top of on a frequent basis.
Task 1 – Streamline data entry
Many organisations attempt to configure their ETO system to capture “all” data in case it is needed in the future. But ETO data entry can be time consuming and burdensome for users when a database attempts to capture “all” data. As an ETO administrator, it is important to therefore streamline or simplify your ETO data entry to only capture the data you need for reporting to demonstrate performance.
Reportable data is actionable, which makes it valuable to your organization. If data has no reportable value, it adds no benefit beyond the cost to collect, store, and manage that data.
You should assess your ETO database for opportunities to streamline data entry on a quarterly basis using the following steps:
Step 1: Define required reports
Create a list of your organisation’s required reports that chart operational performance and define progress toward your organisation’s goals. Required reports may even be compliance-based for funders, evaluators, or other external stakeholders.
Step 2: Translate reports into data entry
Outline the records and fields in ETO that produce each report. If the records and fields needed for reports exist, then your ETO database is all set. If the records and fields don’t exist, then you may need to add more data entry. Other records and fields that don’t provide any value should be removed from the database.
See our post on 5 ways to Streamline Data Entry with ETO Touchpoints for more information on this topic.
Task 2 – Manage data quality
“Good data in equals good data out.” That is, the data going into your ETO database must be clean, accurate, and consistent in order to generate good reports. Because data quality is so critical, it is therefore important to review data entry frequently via monthly data quality reviews. You may decide to increase the frequency of each review to bi-weekly or weekly if you enter a significant amount of data each month.
The most straightforward data quality review exports all records created “last month”, reviews each record and corrects instances of poor data quality. Although this type of data quality review is manual, it is the easiest to implement and guarantees that every record in ETO is reviewed at least twice (once at initial data entry by the user and once during the data quality review by the administrator).
Task 3 – Conduct system assessments
An ETO system assessment will unravel the complexities of your ETO site and identify the strengths and limitations of your ETO system. It is useful to conduct an ETO software assessment annually, however, if your organisation’s strategic timeline is shorter than one year or your organisation is innovating, evolving, and making changes at a rapid pace, you might consider conducting a semi-annual or quarterly assessment.
Here are some questions you might consider when conducting your assessment:
- What are the strengths of our ETO system?
- What are the weaknesses of our ETO system?
- What is our vision for our ETO system?
- Does our ETO site capture the data required to generate reports?
- Do our end-users have the skills and proficiencies to use ETO?
- What feedback is available from users?
- Is ETO making our organization more or less efficient?
- Do we need to make any changes to our ETO site?
Programs change, services change, outcomes change, and your organisation will change. This means your database may need to change by turning on new features, implementing new programs, or evaluating how to “get more” from ETO. Conducting annual assessments (at a minimum) will identify when and how to make these changes to your ETO database.
Task 4 – Build actionable reports
ETO administrators should have an ongoing focus on reporting because reporting makes data actionable. You can focus your efforts on ETO reports with this four step process:
- Define organizational reporting needs.
- Define the frequency reports need to be run.
- Define how reports will be used to take action.
- Draft a user guide for each report describing what it is, how to run it, how it is built, how frequently it should be run, and how the organization takes action from that report.
ETO administrators should spend at least half of their time on ETO reporting as reports make up at least half of the value of your ETO software.
Task 5 – Maintain end-user proficiency
End-user proficiency is critical to sustaining your ETO site as it contributes to clean data entry, more complete use of ETO features and functionality, and a cleaner more accurate database for reports.
Training ensures that users have the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective with the software. However, when push comes to shove, training is often cut from organisational budgets. Yet, training contributes to user buy-in as it provides an opportunity for staff, who are generally tentative about data and technology, to learn, ask questions, and invest time in ETO. So, you should always err on the side of having more training not less using a range of methods, such as:
- Holding monthly end-user forums where users can voice their opinions and provide feedback. You should produce action items from each forum so users can see an honest effort to implement their feedback.
- Implementing a quarterly webinar or in-person training program where end-users get training on data entry procedures, report reading, or other functions related to your ETO site.
- Creating an internal certification system where ETO engagement is encouraged and end-user confidence is increased (e.g., internal champions of the system).
- Showing end-users how reports impact their daily work to help them see the value of ETO data entry. Make sure you give them reports that are relevant to their roles within the organisation.
- Graduating users to administrator status with the ability for them to achieve Gold Certified ETO Administrator or ETO Results Certified designations through the Social Solutions ETO administrator training programs.