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Bad Data Quality Is The Database Killer!

Bad Data is A Database Killer

Data Quality Is Critical In CRM Success

Data Quality is mission critical to any database.  In fact, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a new system, without the right information in the system and getting the best data out your nonprofit might as well save your time and money. It’s going to be a failure. In this article, I discuss the impact of bad data quality and the importance of planning and ongoing cleanup in a unified database (AMS or CRM) to ensure database success.

“Throwing the baby out with the bath water” is an expression which a partner of mine used quite frequently to describe his data migration projects. In essence, he used this expression to imply that when moving data (spreadsheets, access databases, email systems and the Rolodex file left by a former association founder) from one system to another be careful and check the good data and the bad data before bringing the information over. The baby, in this sense, represents the good data that can be preserved. The bath water, on the other hand, usually is dirty after the baby is washed and needs to be discarded, just like the data which is bad or useless.

Begin With The End In Mind In Your Nonprofit Database

Right now, you might have an array of information in various systems. Putting all that data to work over the years has resulted in a treasure trove of information, which you likely safeguard feverishly and spend lots of staff time keeping it current, right?

Before you embark on moving to a new system, it’s a good time to begin that long-delayed project of data maintenance and that much-needed data quality check to provide data clarity. Data migration is essentially taking the lifeblood of your organization and trying to successfully inject it into one software program that will put it to work so you can manage your association nonprofit far more efficiently with communications and reports to make good business decisions. Data migration is the move, and the new application is the destination.

The Challenges With Keeping Your Database Clean

Obstacles on the journey of data quality include the following:

  1. Your existing data may contain duplicate information.

  2. Demographic data is wrong such as items used to solicit funds from donors like wealth, age, & estimated income .

  3. You lack pertinent email information for your email marketing campaigns.

  4. The data you want to migrate may not be up to the task in meeting the structure and objectives of your new system.

According to one Oracle white paper on the integrity of databases (You may download below):

“Without a sufficient understanding of both source and target, transferring data into a more sophisticated application will amplify the negative impact of any incorrect or irrelevant data, perpetuate any hidden legacy problems, and increase exposure to risk.”

Even if the data migration is as basic as converting an Excel spreadsheet to an MS Access database, the challenge can be daunting. While the database application allows quick imports, the new structure calls for greater consistency. Otherwise you have what is known as the “garbage-in-garbage-out” phenomenon.

The situation becomes far more complex if upgrade plans include adopting a sophisticated association management software. The best advice is to give data migration the equal attention it deserves alongside selecting the new software package. The latter is, of course, far more exciting, but, according to the above mentioned White Paper:

“…data migration planning is seen as a simple matter of shifting data from one bucket to another via a process that is a necessary administrative burden and an extra cost. Thus, planning is often left until too late and the required resources and the difficulty of the migration are frequently underestimated.”

Advice For Keeping Your Database Clean From Garbage

Finally, how do you keep your migrated data clean and robust over the lifetime of the new software package? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Instill consistency rules in your organization and build them into your applications

  2. Ongoing duplicate checking processes

  3. Continually update and cleanse your database with a third-party tool or service provider 

If your nonprofit organization is looking to get its data act together, and wants to preserve the information you have without throwing out the good data you have lovingly curated through these years, contact us.

We’ll help you find the tools and services your need from trusted experts such as Updentity who can help with ongoing data quality that will no doubt make the most out of your engagement efforts.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Data Quality Is the Killer for Database Integrity


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