Wes Trochlil of Effective Database Management speaks to how action and discipline are required when it comes to effectively managing data, especially volunteer data. He says,
Over my many years of consulting, one thing I've noticed about many associations is their desire to do something without the commitment to do it. I call this the "wishlist effect." Allow me to illustrate.
It's not uncommon for a client of mine to say something like the following: "We want to track who our volunteers are. We also want to capture their "behavior" while they are a volunteer. For example, are they showing up for calls or meetings, or are they difficult to work with. Things like that."
I think this is actually a really good idea and a great use of an AMS. One of the values of the AMS is tracking history on individuals. And from a technical standpoint, this would be very easy data to track and manage.
So why doesn't it happen? Because a wishlist is not the same as actually doing the work.
In order for the example above to actually work, two things have to happen: 1) a process has to be developed for how the data is captured; and 2) a person (or persons) have to be made responsible for collecting and managing the data.
Too often what I see happen is the association identifies something they want to do and may even identify how they're going to do it. But they never identify who will be responsible for managing it.
To manage data effectively, it takes more than just wanting to do something; you have to take action on your ideas.
A corollary to that is that good data management also requires discipline. Put another way, once the idea is put into action, in order for it to bear fruit over time, your organization has to have the discipline to continually manage the data over time.
Using last week's example of tracking volunteers' behavior (are they a "good" or "bad" volunteer?), the discipline required is updating the information about the volunteers as you learn it. For example, suppose you have a meeting of the committee and one of your committee volunteers doesn't bother to show for the meeting, or shows up and is clearly unprepared. This would be a good time to update their volunteer record to reflect that.
It requires discipline to remember to update the record, and discipline to actually update the record.
Good ideas are good, and implementing good ideas is also good. But having the discipline to execute those good ideas over time is what will make your data management great.