The Attribute Problem
The scale that I most recently worked at was about half a million records for migration which had been in use for about 20 years prior. Over that time there had been many different iterations and interpretations of the data housed within. Attributes used in various ways, deprecated fields kept around for posterity… Rethinking the process of USING data is often a hurdle for many.
CRM today should be dynamic, flexible, and reliable. Take the idea of Raiser’s Edge attributes for instance. Let’s say you want to find a group of people who have given more than $1,000 to any one program/project in the last 5 years and you want to cultivate them differently than other groups.
In the ‘old’ way – they would have run a report, created an attribute and marked them that way. So any future mailings or reports would include that attribute and everyone running that report would need to know that the specific attribute included those specific criteria at the time. Admittedly it makes report running easy : Show me all the people with x attribute…
What it doesn’t do is flex and bend with your living breathing humans. It doesn’t update itself or lend itself to tomorrow you.
The hurdle I’ve found is most difficult to express is that sentiment exactly. When you’re used to running reports on one or two criteria because you know what Y Giving Circle attribute means – you are quite able to quickly and easily pull them into mailings and reports.
As a communications professional or fundraising professional, when you’ve been chucked into a CRM like Salesforce that can do so much more for you in such complex ways, it’s intimidating, difficult, time-consuming and frustrating to figure out your new workflow. This is almost impossible to pre-train for. This is where the org really will need guidance from someone who is data-minded and object-oriented and who knows that the cultivators are truly looking for. It is out of scope for many people to truly understand how database relationships work and to describe their criteria in super literal ways. In these cases, you really need a human interpreter between the two.