Database Cleanup Tips

There are always some tasks that you have hidden on a to-do list that you'll get to... eventually. It's likely that a database cleanup is one of those tasks. It may be an arduous task, but once complete, you and your team will operate more efficiently and effectively.

We compiled some tips to help you accomplish this project. We promise you'll feel much better once it's complete!

1.  Set aside time for your data clean-up project.

You’ve often thought to yourself, “When will we ever have time to clean up this database?” Block time on your calendar each day (for an hour or so) to help stay focused on the project. If you designate specific time to work on the task, it will be more difficult to delay. 

2.  Segment your key information.

If the task of data cleanup seems too big and daunting, break it down into smaller chunks. Start with your major donors or groups of key volunteers. Choose your most important constituents and start there. Marketing Lists and user-created Saved Views are also a good place to begin.

3.  Analyze your data.

Once you choose the segment of constituents you wish to focus on, look at the data. Are the home addresses all formatted differently? Do you see many people who have duplicate records in the system? What data (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) is missing from the records?

Here are a few areas of your database to sort:

  • Duplicate Detection Rules

    These rules are very important as you add data to your system.  Review your active duplicate detection rules and ask yourself these questions - Do they still make sense?  Are they activated?  
  • Forms, Views, Dashboards, and Charts

    Have you created forms, views, dashboards or charts that rarely if ever get used?  If so, it is a good time to remove them from the system.

  • Workflows

    Review your workflows.  If you have more than 75 custom workflows that you (and your organization) have created, review each one for how it is used and what the triggers are for each. Some workflows may have the exact same triggers as other workflows, and these can reduce the speed of the system. You may even find some workflows that qualify as business rules.

4.  Clean your data.

Now that you know the current state of your data, you can begin the process of cleaning it up!  Standardize the information and how it is entered into the system. Merge duplicate records and fill in the missing data. Delete accounts and contacts that have no real, viable data.  

5.  Protect your data.

Ensure the integrity of the information in your database by planning and implementing ongoing efforts to protect your data from the data entry process to finding and eliminating duplicates. Create a style guide and naming conventions to standardize the data and share it with all members of your staff. Consider reviewing and extending the Duplicate Detection capabilities in the application.

6.  Enhance your data.

Find ways to research and add information to the profiles of your donors and volunteers. Help create a 360-degree view of your constituents by filling in the gaps of your data.   

7.  Celebrate!  

Reward staff members for completing this project or create some sort of game to provide incentives and recognition along the way. For example, whichever team completes their cleanup first receives a half day PTO or a gift card to their favorite lunch spot.

Posted by Alicia Stevens

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