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Blog: Installing a new database – ESS’s experience

Lydia Morrow, ESS’s Administration and Finance Manager, tells the story of ESS’s relationship with our new database including the ups and downs!

“It is easy to be seduced by technology – the key thing is that it does what you need it to do!” – Storing information support guide

Why collect all that great feedback in creative and engaging ways only to let it languish in storage systems that doesn’t let it shine?

By the end of 2013 we knew that our database was overwhelmed, we were storing and processing our data both on and off the database relying heavily on a few staff knowing what information was stored where.

To tame this jumble of hard earned data, we created a project team that would be responsible for managing the creation, implementation and maintenance of our new database.

The team went back to our logic model; reviewing our outcomes and indicators and mapping how, when and why we collect data.

Taking into consideration who would be using the database, and how much time and money we could invest into a new system, we took our requirements to tender and settled on a web based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform – Salesforce which was tailored to suit our specific needs by Ciaran from Synovations.

The most important thing I learned throughout this project is that the only way to test a new system is to use it as you (and the rest of the team) intend to once it is implemented. We used dummy information and only the project team was involved which meant that despite our best efforts it wasn’t until the entire staff team was trained up and started using the system that we found many of the bugs, idiosyncrasies and redundant processes that needed to be fixed.

We’ve been using our ‘new’ database for almost two years now and have been through three six-month reporting cycles. Each time we’ve improved our processes and made reporting more efficient, feeding into published documents like our latest annual review as well as internal monitoring and decision making.

We continue to customise our database as our needs and requirements change e.g. adding our new Let’s Evaluate workshops, and thus far it seems that our database can grow and change with us (fingers crossed!).

Read ‘Installing a new database – ESS’s experience’ for a more detailed account

If you would like to learn more about analysing and reporting check out our Let’s evaluate! workshop – Telling My Story: Analysing and Reporting on Outcomes