I don’t know about you, but when I was a database manager, keeping up with data clean up felt a bit like shoveling snow during a blizzard. I kept cleaning, but as data came in mistakes kept happening. I’d try to make plans for clean-up, but other things would come up and I never seemed to find as much clean up time as I felt that I needed. In order to try and keep data as clean as possible, I started cleaning as I found issues and made it a point to check every record that I opened to try to catch mistakes as I went. Here are a few of the things that I checked as a DM (and still check as a consultant):
1) Name fields – if you get the name wrong, you probably won’t build much of a relationship. Some of the things that I look for include:
a. Double headers (such as “John & Jane” in the first name field)
b. Casing issues (such as “JOHN” or “jane”)
c. Suffix issues (putting Jr. in the last name field)
d. Nicknames in the first name field (my given name is Christine and my email address indicates that, so it would be incorrect for the first name field to list my first name as “Chris” – that would belong in the nickname field)
e. Review the titles (if you use them). If you don’t know a woman’s marital status, err on the side of addressing her as Ms.
2) Addressee/Salutation – Once you’ve checked the name fields, you need to check the Addressee/Salutation tab to be sure that you have the correct formulas.
a. Make sure that you know your organization’s preferred formatting (if you don’t have one, now is the perfect time to set them!).
b. Don’t forget to check the additional Addressee/Salutations if you use them!
3) Address & Contact info – You can’t raise money without contacting people!
a. If you have Address Finder or Address Accelerator, check to see if the address has standardized and review the Address Attribute if it has not. Fix it if you can (using Address Accelerator).
b. Check the email address for obvious errors. You won’t be able to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
c. Make sure the phone number has the correct number of digits.
d. Remove any non-address information from the address box and put it where it belongs.
4) Mailing/Contact status – Constituent preference and consent is becoming even more important and, for those of you in Europe, it may even be the law.
a. If the address box is blank, make sure you set the record so that it will be suppressed when you pull a direct mail list.
b. Review notes, annotations, etc. and make sure that any indication of communication preferences has been entered in the correct location.
5) Required fields for your org – If you have certain fields that are uniquely specific for your organization, make sure you check them so that your reports, queries and lists all pull accurately.
What would you add to this list? What things do you regularly check in your database to help keep it in tip top shape?