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Data Maintenance in a Data Hoarding World
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Data Maintenance in a Data Hoarding World


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While reviewing directory vendors, Lake Forest College realized that the directory is the by-product, and the real project was a total overhaul of data maintenance systems. Using a directory reprint …

While reviewing directory vendors, Lake Forest College realized that the directory is the by-product, and the real project was a total overhaul of data maintenance systems. Using a directory reprint as a catalyst, Lake Forest has done a 360-degree data maintenance review, implemented a new process by taking advantage of integrating iModules Encompass tools, email bounce reporting, and systematic reports. In addition, they launched a data education program underscoring the importance of alumni sharing and updating personal data.

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  • About three years ago, we started looking at reprinting a directory. In the process of doing our due diligence, we got a lot of push-back for even entertaining the idea of going through the process of getting a significant update. The world has become extremely sensitive to the issue of identity theft, and protecting one’s personal information. Like it or not, that’s a world we have to operate in.If you have questions, feel free to ask as we go, rather than wait until the end.
  • I don’t know how much of this truly is a concern today, but if you Google “Facebook Data Mining” and you get 10 million, 400-thousand results.
  • About three years ago, I began doing my due-diligence to select a vendor to work on a directory update and reprint.I was really surprised that I got push-back from our gift officers. They said it was:InvasiveThat people didn’t want their evenings interrupted to be sold a directory.That people don’t want to give this information.On the flip side, they also kept saying:-Our emails are out-of-date-We have a lot of invalid phone numbersWe would collect the very information they wanted, yet our own fundraising team didn’t want us to launch the project to get it. During this time, I’ve been observing when people share data, when they don’t, and what they’re comfortable to give and what they are not. And I began to realize the print directory is just the byproduct. It’s really about the process.So for the next 40 minutes or so, we’re going to talk about this data discovery journey and some of the things that my team and I have learned along the way. And the ways that we’re integrating various aspects of the iModules system to help us improve not just the quality of our data, but the relationship we have with our alumni.
  • Today, we are completely transparent when it comes to the data we store and what we use it for, but we didn’t arrive at that point over night.We had a completely disjointed data maintenance system that relied entirely on our two-person data team to maintain and update. The idea of garbage-in, garbage out was taken so seriously, no one could touch the data base except for our data folks. Now the truth is, we actually have very good primary data. Our systems are working very well, as long as you keep in touch by U.S. Mail.It’s the secondary data – the company names, the business addresses, the work phones, the graduate degree programs, the spouse names. All of that data, not only was it not in the shape we hoped to have, we really had no systems to help us get that updated on a regular basis.But here is the thing: People actually want to share their information with you. They want you to know what they are up to.
  • So we tried to get an update of business information for our career mentors.We knew that when we emailed a pool of 500 career mentors, pushing their business information to them, we got a 50% response rate with new business information from company names and addresses, to industry codes and job titles.What was interesting was that this did not match up with the idea that people don’t want to share their information. And it didn’t match up with what we hear from our gift officers: that people don’t want to be bothered for their information.
  • We did something similar for holiday cards. We had a list of just over 200 alums who had U.S. snail mail returned to us, and thus by our standards at the time, they were coded as lost. But we had an email address for them. So we sent an email saying that we no longer had a mailing address for them, and we’d like to send them a Christmas card. We got 171 return emails, either confirming the mailing address we had, or providing a new mailing address.
  • The idea that alumni don’t want to share their information, just doesn’t match with these statistics.Alumni want their holiday cards.They want to be meaningful mentors.So the key is just telling them this is why we need it.
  • I believe where we are at today is that people want to have control over their information. But as we all probably have experienced, just because people have control doesn’t necessarily mean they take advantage of that control.
  • The directory became the catalyst for updating all of our data practices. From being open about educating our alumni on what it is we are collecting and why, to modifying the actual systems we use to update data.
  • People will share information with you if you tell them why you need it.We decided to start with our data policy, which actually had never been written before. We tried looking for policies from other institutions, but we couldn’t find anything.
  • With the data policy down, and the foundation for an education program in place, we turned toward our data flow.It’s important that all your systems match up, particularly if you are using them for the power that they bring to the table.
  • Mapped what we were doing.We realized the bulk of it was left over from days when you stayed in touch by mail and phones. That we weren’t taking full advantage of email and social networks. So we brainstormed what we could be doing and added that to the map.
  • We use the profile data information, and pull that into an event report to create this format, so all the data is in the correct spot.
  • When we were data mining class notes for birth information, we were not always getting the baby’s name, or gender, and hardly ever the actual birth day.But for us to really rely on that sort of information, we need to be able to know the baby’s birth date.You’ll see here on the bottom of the form that we explain we need this so that when the baby reaches the right age, we can send financial aid and college search information.
  • Some of our ongoing data practices help reinforce the culture of data maintenance because not all of our data updates are initiated by our data team.
  • We pull the bounce report and then have our data team append that with mailing addresses. It would be great if iModules would allow us to pull the report with profile information, but I guess that is not possible.
  • Creating a culture of data maintenance is not just about the alumni office. It’s really about the entire campus.One of the things that I firmly believe, and I say this on my campus, is that my role is to bring the resources of our alumni to our campus. And part of that resource is the data about where they are or what they are up to.So if I’m hording my alumni data, then I’m not going to build many partnerships on campus. And without building partnerships, then I won’t have many others on campus who are thinking about data maintenance.
  • As we launched our directory update, we’ve received more
  • Transcript

    • 1. Data Maintenance in aData Hoarding World Timothy State Associate VP for Alumni Programs Lake Forest College @timstate
    • 2. “In the future, it will be harder to convince alumni to give us theirpersonal information than it will be to convince them to give us a gift.” ~Some random conference speaker at Summer Sizzler years ago
    • 3. The Data Discovery Journey
    • 4. The Data on Data Data Education, Policy, and Transparency Improving Internal Data Flow for Improved Data Management Making Data Updates Easy, Natural, and Non-Invasive Creating a Culture of Data Maintenance
    • 5. Data Education,Policy, and Transparency
    • 6. Career MentorData Maintenance50% Response Rate Company Names Company Addresses Job Titles Industry Codes
    • 7. Holiday CardData Maintenance Emailed 213 “Lost” Alumni 171 Returned Emails80% Response Rate
    • 8. Inconsistent Information Alumni want their holiday cards.They want to be meaningful mentors.
    • 9. People want control of their personal informationThey want to know what you are tracking and why
    • 10. DataDirectory Reprint Process Ongoing Significant Data Data Maintenance Updates Data Education
    • 11. Developing a Data Policy Define how data helps them, as an alum Define how data helps us, as an institution Define the data we collect Define what we do with the data Define what we will NOT do with the data Define how we keep the data secure Define the information we do not keep Acknowledge volunteers
    • 12. Linked our Data Policy On the Profile Form Saved content block for email marketing On event registration forms Added to sidebar navigation under “Alumni Services”
    • 13. Improving Data Flow Manual iModules JenzebarAutomatic
    • 14. Making UpdatesEasy, Natural, and Non- Invasive
    • 15. Data Maintenance
    • 16. User-Oriented Added birth date as an option for first-time log-in  In addition to Constituent ID Improved, user-friendly profile search  Added search fields  Changing the default on “Hidden” fields for profiles not built  Improved search return layout
    • 17. Ongoing Data Maintenance NCOA Modified our “Dead letters” process Event guest lists Baby bibs
    • 18. Daily Practices Confirming contact information any time we have an alum on the phone  Simplified the data update form for internal use Happy Birthday Emails  43% open rate  50+% click-through rate to update profile
    • 19. Monthly Practices E-News content block (monthly) “Your email bounced” postcard Publishing our “Lost” list internally  Alumni and Development staff  Student Affairs staff  Athletics staff
    • 20. Quarterly Practices Email Blasts  Career Mentor Business/Graduate Updates  Admissions Volunteer Business/Graduate Updates  “For promoting „Outcomes‟”
    • 21. Data Services Phone number append IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Reunion Classes – Significant Data Update
    • 22. Creating a Culture of Data Maintenance
    • 23. New Data Update Systems Initiated by someone other than our data team; make sure your staff knows the importance of data Alumni-centric: related to relevant and timely projects Go beyond the Alumni Office Create a sense of ownership by SHARING data collected with other departments Collaborate with existing initiatives
    • 24. Annual/Semi-Annual Practices Senior Exit-Survey 6-Month Out Survey Academic Department Assessment Survey Reunion Classes Attribute codes: sports, campus involvement Alumni Magazine address panel update
    • 25. First-Class Data Maintenance Publishing the data policy helps alumni understand why you need their data Improved, integrated data flow – easy for staff and easy for alumni Consistent data maintenance procedures  Pushing information to alumni; they‟ll update if its incorrect Data culture: data maintenance is everyone‟s responsibility
    • 26. Data Maintenance in aData Hoarding World Timothy State Associate VP for Alumni Programs Lake Forest College @timstate