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Summer Cleaning Series: Database

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By Linh Hoang |June 16, 2016
Association Management Solutions (AMS)Strategic Consulting

150px-Summer_time.svg Where has the time gone?! This year has flown by, and today marks the first day of summer! If you’re like me, you have left a lot of opportunities for spring cleaning untouched so here is our chance to redeem ourselves. Spring cleaning applies to your home but I am introducing Summer Cleaning, that applies to work and goes beyond cleaning out the piles of paper in your drawers.

There are three areas that we can focus on at work (database, website and network systems). In this post we talk all about cleaning your database. We know you are super busy with your everyday tasks but once a year it is good to take a step back and think about the bigger picture.

Here’s what you should ask yourself:


  1. How am I entering data? Is this the most efficient way?
  2. Am I replicating any steps or doing double entry at any point?
  3. How am I using the data I put in? Are there parts that I don’t use?
  4. How long does it take to get the data I want out of my database?

There are two approaches to fixing or improving these four areas of your database. The deep clean and the touch-up method vary quite a bit but I must reiterate that doing something is better than doing nothing!

Summer Cleaning

The Deep Cleantouchup 2

1. Integrations: Does your answer to #1 include manually entering data from another source, like a CMS, event registration system or online form? This can be a huge time drain. Most AMS (Association Management System) have a way to integrate with other systems and pull data out of the AMS and then put information back in. You could leverage SSO (single sign on) between your different systems. Having them talk to each other will allow information to be updated in your AMS seamlessly.

2. Process Review: Are you manually creating accounts but could be using your AMS’s import tool instead? You may not know your AMS has an import tool so I would recommend asking your account rep. Importing and updating records from an Excel could save you lots of time.

3. Data: Are you collecting information that you do not use or have never used? For instance, how important is it to collect a member’s favorite ice cream flavor if you have no use for this data? Maybe it doesn’t require you much effort since this field is already in your system and users fill in the answers themselves, but useless information clogging up your data will not help in the long run. Later down the line, someone will, no doubt, be tasked to clean your data and may spend time trying to figure out if the data is useful or not. Another part of cleaning data is making sure the information you currently have is consistent. Do all your addresses have the same format (Street vs St.)?

4. Reports: Are the reports you use efficient and helpful or are you running reports and manually updating or filtering the data in a spreadsheet before you can use it? If it is the latter, then you need to re-evaluate the reports you use. Can you create a report that gives you the data already filtered, with the search results you want?

touchup 1Touch-ups

1. Could your time be better used elsewhere besides updating user profiles? If you have surges when profile updates are heavy, such as renewal time, then it may be worth it to get a temp to help update addresses from returned mail or update profiles based on member requests.

2. If integrating your various systems seems like too big of a project for right now, find out if you can do mass imports into your database so you can cut down on data entry. Updating a spreadsheet and having that imported will save you some time.

3. Data: If you do not have time to mass clean your data, you can create rules for your data and disperse to your staff. Let them know if they see a wrong address, department name, contact information, etc, to let you know or they can fix it themselves according to the rules you create (Street vs St.). You can’t fix everything, but you can fix what you do find/see.

4. Reports: If you do not have the resources to dedicate to redoing your reports, then brush up on your Excel skills so you can edit the report results more efficiently. You are not limited to copy and paste functions. Excel has so many tricks that you may not know about. Follow our Excel Series to find out more.

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Linh Hoang
Summer Cleaning Series: Database

Linh has been with fusionSpan since 2012 and enjoys working with all of our non-profit clients on their CMS, AMS, website and event management needs. She heads up the professional services department, which strives to provide exceptional support and valuable consulting for projects and staff of any size. Linh also enjoys planning fun events for fusionSpan staff and loves any excuse to get us all together to eat and be merry! Prior to joining fusionSpan, Linh was the Membership Coordinator for the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and Event Specialist for The Balcom Group. Linh has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from George Mason

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