This week I wondered out loud: at what point are we willing to sacrifice past data in order to get a database healthy and moving forward?
Our church isn’t there. We’re not at that point.
But I know other database administrators who are at that point or have gotten to that point in the past. I also know that there will be database administrators who get to that point in the future. I may be one of them one day.
So I’ve put together a preparedness plan. I hope you never need this. I hope I never need this.
Here are five things to check before restructuring your database:
1. Do you need a new database? Sometimes we don’t know how to to use our current database and ‘no one wants to learn.’ If “everyone hates it,” is it just time to go with a new one? There is no single database that will meet the needs of every church. Determine your church’s needs, then use a database that will meet those needs now and as the church grows.
2. What time of year is it? I had a Pastor once set an Easter deadline for getting the database healthy. If you’re using your database for financial entry, it might ease the minds of your congregation to make major changes at the end/beginning of a calendar year (for tax accounting reasons).
3. Are there any other organizational changes happening? Anytime your church leadership introduces major church-wide changes, you will have a better chance of your congregation ‘buying into’ a change in the database.
4. DO NOT DO IT ALONE. This is not a uni-lateral decision. You may be at a point where people are saying they hate the database and don’t care what you do. If your church has more than three people, someone does care. Find that person or those people and think through the changes you’re about to make. Remember that each piece of the database has the potential to effect another piece. Changing a group type or department may have an effect on the attendance groupings. Changing the attendance groupings will have an effect on check-in. Talk to the people who are most likely to be impacted.
5. Export and save. Even if you think you have ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ data, you still have data. Do some exports and back-ups before deleting. You may need it one day.
Of course, before doing any of this you should pray. Ask God for direction in all your decisions.
I’d also suggest being as open as you can with your congregation. If you’ve been a ‘cheerleader’ for the software and now (suddenly) they see you doing a major restructuring or even moving to another software, they will question you, your commitment, and your decisions. Trust is earned. Be honest and open about the ‘why.’