Now that you've chosen your SAM Admins and they've gone through a tour of SAM, we're ready to talk about the decisions your team needs to make to really get started.
Deep breath... here we go!
1) How do we get our current data into SAM?
There are three ways to get data into SAM: Data entry, data import and data migration. Let's review each and decide which way (or combination of ways) work best for your organization.
a. Data Entry
This is good, old fashioned, pull up your sleeves and get to the keyboard to start adding families, children and other records into SAM. Yep! Back to basics. However mundane this option may sound, the process of building muscle memory and confidence in that repetition is a worthwhile venture for many agencies to consider, especially if you have less than 200 records or so.
We know it can be a lot, but we've found that if each team member enters around 20-40 records, their comfort level and confidence with SAM goes up and you can begin process and customization sooner.
b. Data import
This option is for clients with very simple spreadsheets that are being used currently to track clients. This option works best with spreadsheets under 20 columns and primarily dedicated to a single one of SAM's entity types ( Family/Child/Birth Parent, etc). An example would be a spreadsheet of families, with their address and contact information, along with which program and what team member is working with the family. Simple.
This option does not work for spreadsheets where the entity types (family, child, and birth parent) data are all on one spreadsheet or data from a relational database. If you have this type of data, your options are data entry or data migration.
c. Data migration
A data migration is for clients who've been using a relational database to track their clients for some time. This is a labor of love project because likely your database is robust or could be lacking the data integrity necessary to really support your team. We have a few guides to walk you through this process, check them out!
2) Where is the data now?
Start to gather the sources of your data. What file format is your data in? For example, is it in a spreadsheet, many spreadsheets, spreadsheets with many tabs, a database your team's been using, paper files?
Only electronic data can be imported, so if your data collection is on paper, it will need to be entered manually. If not, your organization's SAM admins will want to go through the above questions and decide how the data will be entered into SAM.
3) Can the data be consolidated?
Data can be organized a variety of ways. Get to know your data. Do you have separate types of data on different spreadsheets? Does your team know what each of the columns mean and why the team has been collecting it?
Combine what you can and let go of what data isn't necessary. Can multiple spreadsheets be combined into one or few? Can you delete columns or data points that you don't really need? Do you want to make changes to the data?
The simpler the data and more you understand it, the more options, less time and expense for this part of implementation.
Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll discuss your data needs.