I ask because my articles are up, including my big piece from NTEN’s Collected Voices: Data-Informed Nonprofits on Architecting Healthy Data Management Systems. I’m happy to have this one available in a standalone, web-searchable format, because I think it’s a bit of a signature work. I consider data systems architecture to be my main talent; the most significant work that I’ve done in my career.
- I integrated eleven databases at the law firm of Lillick & Charles in the late 90’s, using Outlook as a portal to Intranet, CRM, documents and voicemail. We had single-entry of all client and matter data that then, through SQL Server triggers, was pushed to the other databases that shared the data. This is what I call the “holy grail” of data ,entered once by the person who cares most about it, distributed to the systems that use it, and then easily accessible by staff. No misspelled names or redundant data entry chores.
- In the early 2000’s, at Goodwill, I developed a retail data management system on open source (MySQL and PHP, primarily) that put drill-down reporting in a web browser, updated by 6:00 am every morning with the latest sales and production data. We were able to use this data in ways that were revolutionary for a budget-challenged Goodwill, and we saw impressive financial results.
The article lays out the approach I’m taking at Legal Services Corporation to integrate all of our grantee data into a “data portal”, built on Salesforce and Box. It’s written with the challenges that nonprofits face front and center: how to do this on a budget, and how to do it without a team of developers on staff.
At a time when, more and more, our funding depends on our ability to demonstrate our effectiveness, we need the data to be reliable, available and presentable. This is my primer on how you get there from the IT viewpoint.
I also put up four articles from Idealware. These are all older (2007 to 2009), they’re all still pretty relevant, although some of you might debate me on the RSS article:
- Better Organization Through Document Management Systems outlines what a document management system can do for you and the types of systems available.
- XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding The Alphabet Soup Of Data Exchange is a fairly techie primer on the nuts and bolts of data integration. Unlike the Healthy article, which is a high-level guide, this one talks about XML and CSV syntax. Very useful if you’re the one charged with moving that data from ETapestry to Salesforce.
- The Perfect Fit: A Guide To Evaluating And Purchasing Major Software Systems is a big one, covering the process of buying a new CRM or ERP system from needs assessment to contract negotiation. One of the most useful things I ever wrote, completed right after doing a close to million dollar project with a very well-known, nonprofit-focused fundraising system vendor.
- Using RSS Tools to Feed Your Information Needs is everything that you need to know about using RSS to bring information to you. Just do me a favor and substitute “Feedly” everywhere the article mentions “Google Reader”!
This leaves only one significant piece of my nptech writing missing on the blog, and that’s my chapter in NTEN’s “Managing Technology To Meet Your Mission” book about Strategic Planning. Sorry, you gotta buy that one. However, a Powerpoint that I based on my chapter is here.