Is your school doing everything it can to ensure your data is clean, accurate, up-to-date and funnels through repeatable processes? Quality control data queries: find problems with your data before someone else does or find hiccups. Stop problems before they arise. No matter what system your school uses. Your data feeds into online directories, ensuring its accurate is critical.This presentation is a combination of Old school – words and new school – images.Full disclosure – we are Blackbaud customers with an integrated Education Edge, Raisers Edge and WebsiteThough presentation is centered around academic side of Shipley, principles apply to any system, any school.
When we talk about database challenges, we’re NOT talking about new challengesThis is not about your computer system, your database (electronic or paper)I’ve heard people who work for schools say that the term“best practices” doesn't apply to a school because each school is unique and what works in the business world doesn’t work in education. Its true that in schools our accepted procedures may vary, but inaccurate data should never be an accepted variable.That said, our best practices are going to include strategy and tactics.First, best practices can only be embraced by a culture that is open to it
THIS IS STRATEGY:In order to have reliable, accurate, data you have to first establish a culture of data quality.So how do you get to a culture of data quality?
In 2006 when we were going through database migration and integration, I was given book by coworker.One of the chapters was about a doll factoryDoll assembly worker would run out of pieces, let’s say legs, so they would just give the doll one legThe next assembly worker would receive a doll with just one leg so the doll would just get one sockThe next assembly worker would receive a doll with just one leg and one sock do the doll would just get one shoeSo on, so onNo quality assurance / quality controlEach person in assembly line who received an incomplete doll figured that it was acceptable so they did whatever job they though would be accepted.There was no culture of product quality, there was no quality assurance or quality controlBut we’re not making dolls so how does this apply to school?
Schools do have an data assembly line if different people are contributing to a recordIf you don’t have Quality Control along each step of the process you will not have clean dataReturned mailRejected emailIncorrect addressees or salutationHow do you set up the assembly line to get clean data?
You have to have a culture of data quality3 components to a culture of data qualitySystem – everyone has some system … even paperProcess – tools and proceduresPeople – training, set goals, expectations and leadership
First Component - Systems: Use technology to automate processes that could create error if done manually and to find existing errors
Use the systems to help automate data entry
Usesystems to help you track “future” record updates
Use the systems to help accuracy & reliabilityThis example:Mrs. Steinmeyer says she isn’t receiving Shipley emails. We QUICKLY look and see that we have the correct information for her. Deeper look into email field shows that two addresses have been entered into one numberOnce you find this error you can’t be certain that other similar errors don’t exist unless you find them.We wanted to know how to find them … and when I thought about the doll factory I realized that we needed to have a way to quality control check our database … and so was born the idea of QC Queries.
Quality Control or QC queries find problems with our database. The help prevent embarrassing mistakes, miscommunications, etc. They help us feel more confident in our data entry and our data usability.
If you can query to find a problem, keep the query – don’t delete it! Schedule time on your calendar to run it again!Regarding online directories, these are the errors that could be especially embarrassing if first found and seen by families in online directories or online profiles.
Not all database fields can or should always be required.Example – family calls to schedule a tour you want to create their database record but you don’t want to harass them for information. As they go through your process you gather additional information. After they enroll you want to ensure that you have “ALL” their information.1. Can’t report on it if you don’t track it or if it isn’t entered.
Running 20 queries each week to check for errors would be daunting. I will show you how to make this process easier in a few slides
Another tool that helps with data accuracy is Excel. Because not all data errors are queryable there are ways to use Excel to find and data errors.
The first Excel tool is a simple formula.Do this at key times of the year, including before printing a directory
There are instances when neither a query or a simple =exact will help.In this example,Mrs. Steinmeyer says she didn’t receive an email. In EE everything checks out okay. In RE she was accidentally marked Requests No email. Comparing Mrs. Steinmeyer’s record from 2 systems is difficult
There is an Excel tool called Vlookup. Vlookuplooks-up a value in one place and insert it into another. I am not an expert!
Going back to our slide of 50+ QC Queries …. running that many queries each week to check for errors would be daunting. Use an output tool to quickly output a group of queries.
Find and proactively send data to people who may need it or want to know about it.
Second Component of a culture of data quality - Processes:Develop better processes that allow fewer errors and more routinely incorporate correct information and are repeatable
Is it repeatable?Does this rely on one person’s knowledge? Can another person support this? Can it be written?
Developing Policy – creating a list of agreed-up processes, expectations-start by writing down what you think you do – culture specific – some build together, draft and revise-write for processes you’re already doing and as you develop new processesAgreeing on Policy – CRITICAL-after agreeing send and email with P&P shortcut and confirmation that all agreedImplementing – Monitoring – note issues in P&P for future trackingReviewing – are you doing what you say you’re doing?were issues with P&P or people? Updating – What needs to change … P&P or people?
They don’t dictate what we do, we write them to support our workThey are not set in stone
Post enrollment proceduresRequests no emailDivorce
As an example, our divorce-separation procedures
Divorce/separation part 2
It’s all well and good to go through the time and effort to write them .. But are you using them?Monitor your P&Ps not only for accuracy but for use …. Date/initials of data entry/annotation
Third Component of a culture of data quality - People: Build people’s awareness of good processes, skills in using technology to maintain cleaner data and judgment about how to prevent or fix data quality problems. Let them know what is expected of them – empower them to perform well and meet expectations.
Set expectations by drawing clear lines … Divide and Conquer! WHO is as important as WHATSet clear-cut goals and action plansGet users into an proactive rather than a reactive mindsetAvoid the “activity trap”
Not only does developing better processes enable better data and more usable data, it moves your users from a reactive to a proactive point of view. You’ll struggle less with “Anything that is everyone’s responsibility quickly becoming no one’s responsibility. “I was worried that While P&Ps and QC Queries would not be well received but our users have embraced them.
Reaching goals is a point of prideSet goals that are SMART-Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relevant-Time Bound
After defining your goals, set your action plans.
Once you have begun to move your school towards a culture of data quality, the cycle will support itself.
Establish your P&P and rely on them to get your team through the difficult times
Data & Policy Best Practices
DATA & POLICY BEST PRACTICES
Director of Data Operations and Webmaster
The Shipley School
Copy of slides will be available after presentation
A SCHOOL’S DATA ASSEMBLY LINE
COMPONENTS OF CULTURE OF DATA QUALITY
Use technology to
automate processes that
could create error if done
manually and to find
processes that allow
fewer errors, promote
correct information, set
Build people‟s awareness of good processes, skills in using
technology to maintain cleaner data and judgment about how
to prevent or fix data quality problems
• Problems with Data / Data Conflicts
- Title = Mr. and Gender = Female
- Grade Level = 1 and Class of Does Not = 2025 (Etc.)
- Incorrect Relationships - Reciprocal Relationship = Father and Gender =
- Contact type = Email and number does not contain @
- Contact type = Email and number contains ,
- Students with a Business Address
- Former employees who still have school email addresses
- Former students who still have school email addresses
- Former employees with employee status
- Non-students with an all-school alert contact
- Families/Parents who can‟t view report cards
QC QUERIES - TO FIND …
• Missing Data (Is Blank)
- Date of Birth
- Marital Status
- School District
- Class of
- Primary Addressee or Salutation
- Students missing status dates
- Faculty missing date hired
- Faculty without a Shipley email address
Any field not marked required in the database that you want to be recorded
QC QUERIES - TO FIND …
EXCEL – VLOOKUP (MORE COMPLEX)
In Excel, use the function, VLookup, to lookup a value in one place and insert it into
Blackbaud User Resources:
BB497426: What is VLookup in Excel and when would you use it?
BB 496418: How to use VLookup in Microsoft Excel
BB 497427: How to troubleshoot VLookup in Microsoft Excel
• The database will be 100% clean
tomorrow and always accurate all
• We will never make mistakes
SET CLEAR-CUT GOALS
• The database will be a reliable
source of data for students,
parents, alumni, staff
• The database will be quality
control checked regularly
• We will write P&Ps to help
ensure data accuracy and to
find mistakes before others do
• “Go forth and prosper”
SET CLEAR-CUT ACTION PLANS
• By the end of April we will find
„all‟ errors in records regarding
- Admissions – Applicants &
- Data Operations – Current
Families & Students, Colleagues
- Alumni Office – Alumni
• When – end of month deadline,
mid-month status update due
CULTURE OF DATA QUALITY
• 3 components rely on each other
• Takes time to build QC queries …. but saves time
in use and reporting
• Built correctly, processes are repeatable
• Achievable – but will not happen overnight
• Set goals to build the culture
• Deadlines to address issue, create docs &
• Include the right group of people. This cannot be
achieved from a solely top-down process