Everything but the Kitchen ... Sync!
6. Establish a data dictionary to standardize definitions and language between systems.
7. Set the mapping document aside for a few days, and go back with fresh eyes.
8. Determine who needs to provide feedback: development staff for major donors, assuming they aren’t a part of the core group; affiliate leadership if you are syncing affiliate data; your sustainer program manager, etc. Then give them a chance to provide it!
9. Establish a “point zero.” Sync the systems offline before the sync gets turned on in real time.
And here are some other tips from the experts:
- Start with the end in mind. After determining your goals and likely use cases, review your overall data architecture road map — and make sure that a sync fits in. But don’t fall into analysis paralysis — even a quick sync of the basics (donor info, name, address, most recent gift and highest gift, e-mail, database IDs, etc.) creates value.
- Carefully scope the project. Estimate the return (at least at a high level), and the time and costs. And anticipate problems. If your data isn’t integrated correctly, the project is a waste.
- Break down silos! Really this is true in nearly everything we do — but especially here. Remember that no one department “owns” the data. At the end of the day, it is the donors who matter most.
- Once the sync is working, try to break it. Challenge it. Test it. See how it does. Do the business rules hold up? Make sure they do, and then work to improve them. Never assume you are done.
- Expect the unexpected. Data syncs are challenging — and not for the faint of heart!
- Monitor the queue of “kick outs” daily — i.e., records that fall out of the sync. Understand if there is a pattern (or if the sync breaks!), and then work to correct and automate.
- Get expert help. Building a sync isn’t easy. In fact, determining what you’re going to do once the data is synced and planning out what fields to sync aren’t easy, either. Consider getting support from consultants who can help you think about and create the future.
OK, these are a few thoughts to get you off and running! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the steps and tips above — and what else you think is critical to ensuring not only that your data is successfully synced, but also that your charity is able to use the data