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How do you transfer data knowledge?

One of the hazards of working in the nonprofit industry is the turnover rate. A recent study by Nonprofit HR found that 45% of nonprofit employees will be seeking new employment opportunities in the next five years.

With employees coming and going so frequently, how do you ensure that knowledge is transferred from the old guard to the new – especially when it comes to something as complicated as your data?

As the gatekeepers of reporting, data hygiene, data management and more, your organization’s data talent has a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of your nonprofit in their brains. Making sure that knowledge is left for the next team member is critical.

That’s why it’s important to have the right systems and processes in place so that turnover doesn’t slow down your organization’s forward momentum.

Focus on data hygiene

What is data hygiene? It’s the cleanliness of your organization’s data. Without clean data, trying to transfer data knowledge becomes much harder.

Even if your resident data guru knows how to make sense of the mess, that doesn’t help you when it comes time to train new talent.

Sound data governance strategies result in hygienic data.

Put a data governance plan in place

Developing and enacting data governance strategies will help ensure that there’s consistency and continuity no matter who is managing your data.

Nonprofits can create their own data governance guidebooks themselves or partner with an agency to do so. This handbook should be your go-to resource for anything and everything that impacts your data.

It can be as simple as a word document that lives on a cloud drive – but it should be accessible to everyone who has a stake in your data and regularly updated by anyone involved in key processes.

Start with a glossary that documents all of the reports you run regularly. For each report, identify:

  • Who uses it
  • What it is
  • When it needs to be run
  • Where it lives
  • Why it matters/What question it answers
  • How it is created/run

Having a guide even as simple as this in place will ensure that all reports are able to remain functional between the time that someone leaves and you’ve trained their replacement.

Invest in the systems that support you

Part of focusing on data hygiene and data governance is investing in systems that can support you along the way. With the right system in place, you can have confidence in your data no matter who leaves or what changes are thrown your way.

A strong data management platform will give you the ability to build the foundation for reliable and consistent data management. When it comes to turnover and knowledge transfer, having the right system in place, like Bytespree, for example, helps in a number of ways. When looking for the right system, make sure it includes features like:

1. Unified, consistent reporting. A robust data management platform will have extensive reporting functionality that you and your team can use to run consistent reports. Should someone leave, your reporting will already be up and running for the next person, limiting downtime and confusion as they get up to speed. 

2. User-friendly interface. Finding a user-friendly platform is critical because it makes data management, hygiene, and governance so much easier. Having a super complicated tool that requires extensive SQL knowledge will only make the learning curve longer for new team members. 

3. Areas for collaboration. The right systems have collaborative features that allow you to work as a team. For example, being able to flag issues and keep track of changes will allow for more effective knowledge transfer. 

Large or small, all organizations should have a plan in place to transfer data knowledge when turnover occurs. As we continue to be more data-informed as fundraisers, documenting all data knowledge, processes and practices will ensure that your organization’s operations are ready for whatever may come.

Want to learn more about Bytespree? Check out our demo in the video below and visit the Bytespree website today.

Trent Johnson

Trent is a solutions architect at RKD Data Management, with a decade of experience building products and solutions that make it easier for organizations to use their data to make strategic decisions that unlock breakthroughs. He works alongside strategists, analysts, and database managers to solve engineering problems that directly impact the form and function of a nonprofit’s data.

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