We talk to many associations about the value of data. We’ve had countless discussions about the possibilities of using data as an asset, and like all assets, they should be revenue generating. The industry is built on systems that promise to harness your information and organise it seamlessly. Advancements in analytics, big data and visualisation tools means that this capability is at the fingertips of all associations more than ever. What a world we live in where we can pinpoint when members are at risk of leaving or understand member characteristics to give them fit for purpose communications and industry information. We’re all destined for success.
But.. And there is a big BUT. What 99% of associations forget or underestimate is that member insights and the ability to exploit the richness of data only exists if you get the basics right.
All too often organisations pursue the nice shiny toolset but give no consideration for what data they have, what they want to measure or how their data can complement their value proposition. This translates into poor practices in organising and maintaining data.
Luckily, correcting this downward spiral of poor data management is easy. It’s not rocket science. (shout out to the rocket science association).. And it starts with the basics.
Here are 7 CORE data management practices that every association should keep in mind when considering their data. Implementing them comes at no cost. The cost only occurs when you don’t govern your data.
Create definitions for your data. Ensure these are used religiously. This extends to naming conventions and to data formats. If you’ve ever tried to do geographical analysis without structuring your methods for capturing Address, City, State, Postcode separately you would know what I mean here. For example, quick! Give me all the members we have in Queensland.
- Joe Bloggs – 21 river road Gympie Queensland
- Jill Bloggs – QLD, 21 river road Gympie
- Jack Bloggs – Twenty One River Rd QLD, Australia
- Jess Bloggs – 21 | River | Road | 4207 | Australia
- James Bloggs – 21 River Road Queensland
Know the minimum requirements and the limitations of your data. If your members are company employees, make sure you capture their personal email or their linked in profile otherwise risk losing them forever when they change companies.
Capture and store data consistently. Build in data capture controls in your core processes. Ensure it is part of the culture to create transparency and capture data. If your sales team are engaging customers, capture the interactions. If your contact centre receives an inbound call record it. Your members want to be understood, ensure your teams have a consistent understanding of your members.
Each member is unique. The first commandment. Ensure you have a single unique identifier for your members. Many associations use CRM ID as a central key. This is valid, provided all of your other mailing, finance, events systems can link up through a common identifier. There is nothing more frustrating than capturing data that is instantly redundant because it cannot be mapped to your members in a meaningful way. The power of analytics sits within the ability to link relationships between data sources to create insight.
Think about how members change over time. What are the gauges you need to check and how often should you be checking them. There is a growing desire from associations to have near-real-time reporting, but systems or data capture often prohibits this. When determining your data points and the uses for that data, think about frequency.
It sounds obvious.. But when you capture data or when investing in a system, ensure the data within it is accessible. Being able to extract data, manipulate it, link it with other data and other tools means that you are not constrained to the reporting capabilities of an archaic system.
Each of these practices can be implemented to some degree at no cost. In the environment we’re in, technology is pulling us forward. The best expression of digitisation in industry is through data, and the best way to harness it’s power is analytics. Just as you’re ensuring your value proposition is relevant to members, ensure your internal frameworks and your data collection methods are future proof. Failing to do so can be fatal. We live in a world where those that are data savvy take no prisoners, and those that are not get relegated to history books.
Lastly the plug.. If you’re interested in having a chat about how your association can benefit from the above, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0421 853 720
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