Picture this: You’ve just taken on a new stewardship director role and are scrolling through dozens of spreadsheets to find the data you need for a monitoring report. Meanwhile, your colleague is calling from the field to ask where exactly that illegal deer stand is, because she doesn't have access to that information unless she's logged in at the office. Unfortunately, the answer to that question resides in a system that you haven’t been trained on yet, and there’s no one else around to help at the moment. What do you do?
If this situation sounds all too familiar, take heart that you’re not alone in your frustrations around your land trust’s data management, and get ready to learn about how the solutions to these problems can be a lot more accessible than you might think!
Your 5 Biggest Data Challenges (and How to Solve Them)
1. You’re mired in too many spreadsheets.
While spreadsheets may have seemed like the cheapest and easiest option when your land trust was just getting started, it only takes a little organizational growth for spreadsheet usage to spiral completely out of control. The manual work involved in updating spreadsheets makes them incredibly prone to error, and it can be very hard to maintain proper versioning across staff members or departments.
As long as your data is residing in many disparate spreadsheets, you won’t be able to get a holistic view of your organization. Being unable to fully access or trust your data severely limits your ability to make informed decisions, take decisive action, and achieve your goals.
Solution: Migrate to LOCATE! With a data management platform built specifically for land trusts by experts intimately familiar with your needs, you can track everything about your organization in a system that's just as customizable as a spreadsheet, but without all the downsides. Plus, it’s built on Salesforce, so you’re hitching your wagon to an industry leader that will ensure you stay current for the long run.
2. Strict reporting requirements require hours of data synthesis.
Land conservation is a data-dense field. Whether it’s tracking the myriad monitoring requirements of properties, or needing to provide data points around certain land types to apply for a grant, there is a ton of information to keep up with. And with the wrong systems in place, it can take hours—or even days—to find all the data you need and connect the dots. You likely don’t have the time or resources to be allocating that much time to those kinds of tasks.
Solution: Migrate to LOCATE! Invest in a central data repository with advanced reporting capabilities so you can mine your data quickly. When all your data lives in one place, it’s much easier to make connections and draw conclusions, and you can rely on dashboards and reports to automatically update as new data is added.
3. As a nonprofit, your resources are likely limited.
It may perpetually seem as if you don’t have enough people, money, or time to accomplish all that you want to, so you need to be able to cut corners and gain efficiencies wherever you can, without sacrificing quality. Ideally, your staff’s time shouldn’t be monopolized by tedious tasks, such as repetitive data entry or tracking down information.
Solution: Migrate to LOCATE! In addition to doing data aggregation for you, it also connects to your team’s email and calendars to automatically log communications and create reminders. Removing another set of time-consuming, but necessary, tasks from your staff’s plates frees up more time and energy for them to dedicate to the more impactful work that truly furthers the mission of your organization.
4. Frequent staff turnover causes setbacks.
Turnover is a challenge at nonprofits of all types and sizes. The loss of even just one staff member at your land trust can have serious repercussions if that person didn’t keep clear records. Many files may be kept on paper, and if you were not the one who created the system and the person who did is no longer with the organization, it can be hard to track down what you’re looking for.
Solution: Migrate to LOCATE! It’s an online, easily searchable platform that the entire organization can use. When everyone is operating within the same system, it’s simple to bring new team members up to speed because anyone can train new hires, and their predecessors’ complete records, historical data, and correspondence will be searchable and accessible.
5. Progress halts when too many staff members are out in the field.
When your organization is focused on land, you undoubtedly spend a lot of time out in the field. If you don’t have a system you can take out there with you, you may spend a lot of time doing double duty—taking written notes in the field that you later have to enter into your system back at the office.
Solution: Migrate to LOCATE! You need a platform with good mobile/offline access. Instead of taking notes wherever and however you can while you’re out at a site, and then having to transfer or type up those notes, imagine being able to input the relevant data points directly into your system and have them automatically sync to the database as soon as you are connected again. An optimized mobile platform also makes it easy for staff to easily reference facts, figures, and reporting on the spur of the moment, as needed.
Optimizing your land trust’s data management is a necessity for navigating and excelling in your role as stewardship director and positioning your organization for greater success. You could unleash massive potential with a database containing land-conservation-specific features that free up valuable staff time, provide automatic and less error-prone reporting, and are accessible from anywhere.
LOCATE by BackOffice Thinking is that all-in-one solution. Come see a demo today to experience the difference.