- May 15, 2020
- Posted by: DBarney
- Category: Uncategorized
A significant barrier to progress with any software product is knowing how to use it. This seems obvious. It is so obvious that training is often the first request made of us. “We have new staff, and we need them trained on reporting, selection filters/queries, exports.”
Without fail, our first question is about the health of the database. Sometimes, training is not what your organization needs – right now.
If your structure is disjointed, training won’t really help. If there is redundant coding without purpose, training is not what you need right now. If we train your staff on a broken system, they will learn how to survive – in most cases with moderate efficiency – in a dysfunctional system.
Sometimes what you need is to step back and evaluate the tool you have. So often in nonprofit organizations staff turnover drives dysfunction. Database administrators respond to the immediate needs of leadership while working in an increasingly discombobulated environment. Data entry staff follow lock step the directions so adamantly passed along to them. The information ultimately ends up so far asunder no one can recognize that which was deemed so important only a couple years ago. The database becomes the historical record of many generations of past staff’s idea of sound data management. And, in a nonprofit organization, a generation can be 14-18 months, so the variations mount quickly.
Sometimes training is not what you need, yet. This is particularly true, when the department has seen recent or frequent staffing changes.
Commonly, the most appropriate first move is to step back and see what is happening at the core of the system. A Database Audit will reveal much of that which could be improved, but you should not stop there. You do not want to operate in environments of known problems. The issues must be fixed with an eye to fixing that which does not work while ensuring that which does work is not broken as a result of the changes.
When the health of data management environment is improved, it affects all aspects of the system from data entry to extraction to analytics. It is then that we can, and should, empower an organization’s staff to learn how to use the revitalized software with best practices and with those practices best fit to the unique needs of the organization.