Database Integration in the Nonprofit World


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Database Integration in the Nonprofit World

  1. 1. Database Integration in the Nonprofit World Tips for successful and affordable implementation 2002 Boston Regional Conference November 20, 2002 Presented by Steve Backman
  2. 2. Non-Profit Database Picture <ul><li>Mix of databases and data sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Custom database applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project spreadsheets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounting software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donor/development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web ASP orders, scheduling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Index cards…! </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Three Consulting Challenges <ul><li>Strategic vs Tactical Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Integration Cost / Benefit Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Culture For Integration </li></ul><ul><li>Question: how uniquely non-profit? </li></ul>
  4. 4. I Strategic vs Tactical <ul><li>Premise: one application strategic; the rest tactical </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>closely linked to mission of organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most likely requires customized features </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tactical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve work flow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Save money, staff time </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Which Organizations make which software strategic? <ul><li>Project management for events? </li></ul><ul><li>Fund Raising and grant awards? </li></ul><ul><li>Contact manager for Community Mobilization? </li></ul><ul><li>Publications and paid services? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Implications for Integration <ul><li>Don’t start with which software has best tools </li></ul><ul><li>Focus integration planning on meeting needs of strategic application </li></ul><ul><li>What if more than one thing appears strategic? </li></ul>
  7. 7. II Assessing Integration Options <ul><li>Import/Export (on demand) </li></ul><ul><li>Replication (automated) </li></ul><ul><li>Real Time (live) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Import/Export <ul><li>Broadest staff understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to set up cross check </li></ul><ul><li>Most software now supports </li></ul><ul><li>But…hard to manage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>--lose data validity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>--synchronizing data if in two directions </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Import/Export Example <ul><li>Central Office, community branches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Branches enter and edit client data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No wide area network, branches dial-up to ‘Net </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Central views, aggregate data, but no edits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Central may use different db than branches </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Export from branches, import to central db </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use email attachments, free PGP for security </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Script it in VB, etc </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. II Replication <ul><li>Software may have tools for this </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Like Palm synchronization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web site example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publish to the web, which has separate, hosted db </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gather responses from web to internal db </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower costs, easier security… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internal example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both development and project staff maintain contact list in two different software applications </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Real Time integration <ul><li>Basic concept: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>one piece of software updates two data sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Requires enabling technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many options, from ODBC to Web Services </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. What’s Up with Web Services? <ul><li>Microsoft’s new, general replication answer </li></ul><ul><li>Based on SOAP: Simple Object Access Protocol—XML-based technology </li></ul><ul><li>Available Before, now fully integrated </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to configure networking for web sites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could use for earlier hosted/internal db example </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exchange data across different platforms </li></ul><ul><li>Technology free, professional tools not </li></ul>
  13. 13. Implications for Integration <ul><li>Tighter integration costs more </li></ul><ul><li>All require training and monitoring, but different for each </li></ul><ul><li>Technical, network back-drop </li></ul>
  14. 14. III Culture to Support Data Integration <ul><li>Overlap with Strategic Planning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploring issues under topic I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project independence within organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neighborhood, branch vs central office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affiliate independence vs national office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project teams vs. development </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Education for “informed consent” <ul><ul><li>Exploring technology issues under topic II </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand costs and time commitments for each type of integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weigh investment in new, “single solution” vs. integrating “best of breed” (ugh) for different activities </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. For more information <ul><li>Steve Backman, Database Designs Associates , Chelsea, MA [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic Technology Consulting, software and web development </li></ul>