Organizations that commit themselves to be high-performing collect and interpret data about the communities they serve. They translate this data from outputs to outcomes, using their information to better help and impact communities. Keeping track of outcomes can lead to more grants, more informed decision-making and many other benefits. But, one pitfall organizations can fall into when collecting information is their data becoming siloed.
A data silo, simply put, is a place where you store information that keeps it separate from all of your other information. Sometimes, this isn’t a bad thing. For instance, keeping your case management notes separate from your donor information helps your organization keep better track of both.
But what happens when your program notes are in a completely separate system from your case records?
For example, say your organization utilizes Excel to take attendance for a program to help clients work on their resumes, but your case files are in a separate system. Because of data silos, case managers may not be immediately aware whether or not the clients they’re working with showed up to work on their resumes. As a result, they are forced to go from the system with case files to the Excel attendance sheets and manually input them to keep track.
Your data being separate and siloed makes service delivery more difficult. How can you be sure what’s working if you can’t readily see the outcomes? In addition, if your data is in separate systems, your organization is likely putting countless hours of manual work to compile everything relevant into one place.
There are steps that your organization, regardless of size, can take to avoid isolating data. The most important action you can take is to evaluate your organization’s needs and learn more about the data you should be tracking. Check out these five data points if you’re not sure where to get started.
The next step is to find a software solution and assess what might work for your organization. It’s important to research solutions that will grow with your organization and aid you in your mission. Start evaluating today with this guide and find the right solution for you.
Software solutions designed for the social sector offer the capacity to contain relevant information in the same place. Having the ability to put all relevant data about a client into one place is not only going to save you time because you won’t have to compile data from two separate places—it will help you better see the impact you’re having on the community you’re serving. Being able to see that impact easily can, in turn, help you find more funding, enabling you to help even more people.
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