The life-changing magic of tidying up your association’s data

Courtney Lill, Marketing Manager

October 2, 2020

Did you happen to watch the Netflix show, “Tidying Up”? In it, Marie Kondo (star of the show and author of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) demonstrates how clearing out clutter and organizing what’s left can bring more joy and peace to our homes.

The principles from the show got me thinking about an association’s member data. You’re likely saving a lot of data, but are you really using it? And, what’s the cost of keeping old data your organization no longer needs?

Taking the time to clean and organize your member data can have several benefits:

You’ll spend less time finding the data you need.

How can you find the data you’re looking for quickly if you have to sort through a bunch of old data in your membership management software to find it? It’s like trying to find a loose paper clip in a junk drawer.

Your reports are likely to be more accurate.

Just imagine: You pull up a report and as you scan it, you realize several lines of data are out of date. Because of that, you could easily spend just as much time cleaning up the data as you’d planned to spend reviewing it for business insights.

You won’t waste dollars on data storage space for old data that you don’t need.

It wouldn’t make sense to devote an entire room of your house to accessories for tools you don’t even own or use anymore. Likewise, why waste valuable “square footage” in your association management software (AMS) system for data you will never use again?

You won’t waste time and money moving data around.

It’s not efficient or cost-effective to move stuff you don’t need from your old house to your new one. (Although, as someone who has recently moved, I know that’s way easier said than done!) It’s the same with your member data: If you’re moving to a new AMS system, there’s no point in moving outdated information from your old system to your new system. Minimalism with data conversion can save considerable labor costs in the AMS implementation process.

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With these benefits in mind, here are some tips for cleaning up your member data – inspired by “Tidying Up”:

Tackle categories of data.

One principle from the show is to not go from room to room trying to organize everything in each room. That can be overwhelming. Plus, you might realize that you thought you’d organized all of your blankets in the house only to find another stack in the next room. Create a list of the types of member data you want to clean and organize, and then tackle each category one-by-one – even if data from the category is stored in multiple systems.

Sort things out.

In the show, the host recommends picking up each item in your house and asking yourself if it “sparks joy” for you (essentially, does it make your life easier, happier, more efficient?). If it does, you keep it. If not, you thank it for serving you, and then channel your inner Elsa and “let it go”.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to do that with each piece of data in your AMS system. And, chances are, you won’t feel nostalgic about your member data the way you might about an old college hoodie that you just can’t part with. (Although, you might. No judgment here!) But, there is a temptation to hang on to data you likely won’t need “just in case” your organization might need it someday.

Especially if you’re moving to a new AMS system, consider which data you really need converted from your old AMS. For each piece of data, ask yourself if your organization will ever really use that data. If the answer is not a solid “yes,” acknowledge that it served its purpose at one time but may no longer be useful, then consider not moving it to the new system. Being selective about what data you move to a new system can also save your organization money!

Have a place for everything.

For the data you decide to keep, make sure you organize it in a single place, versus having it scattered in multiple systems. Let’s face it: rogue spreadsheets of data don’t spark joy for anyone.

Storing all of your member data in an AMS system like Nimble AMS gives you a 360-degree view of all of your member relationships. This makes it much easier to see the data you have and use it to deliver a great member experience.

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