Building an Online Database
Make sure the product you use is hosted on a secure site, with data backed up on regular basis.
2. PROPRIETARY INFORMATION
Before going with any product, confirm that the data entered will be the sole ownership of your organization, even if stored at a remote site. As international privacy laws mature, this will have more importance.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the interface of the database product you choose is easy enough for the non-computer savvy to manipulate. If it’s not easy to use, then it’s doubtful your busy staff and board members will take the time to use it. Ask for input early and often from your users. This will save you time and frustration when concerns arise.
It’s essential that a database allows for customization that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Being able to manipulate your database to provide the data you need, when you need it, really makes or breaks the database. A note about designing a customized database: Generally this can be too costly and, in the end, if programmers you’ve hired move on to other jobs, they won’t be able to maintain your work. I don’t suggest going with this option. Getting someone to customize a standardized database is a better option, but those people can be difficult to find.
Some companies offer scalable fee rates that grow as your contact base and organization grow.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING
The research, approval, creation and testing of a database can take many months -- and likely up to a year with larger organizations. This set-up process must correlate to staff training that allows those relevant users to trust, understand, be committed to and use the product you create.
If those who must have knowledge and understanding about the database cannot attend training sessions that are offered by vendor representatives, then set up a time to have a designated trainee share what he or she has learned. Training your volunteers from the start can save you time and hassle when you get ready to do a mailing or put on a fundraising event.