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How To Clean Up: Lessons In Blueberry Picking And Database Cleanup

As the chilly fall weather settles here in the 61593b115e67ce63d9dbb3eeb1c19172-huge-blMidwest, I can’t help but think back to this summer nostalgically. Every summer, I visit my family in Michigan, and one of our long-standing traditions is to go blueberry picking. It’s a great way for us get some fresh air, reconnect, and (of course) load up on Michigan grown blueberries. This summer was no different.

However, as we were picking this year, I couldn’t stop thinking of lessons I’ve learned from blueberry picking, which can be applied to cleaning up a GIFTS Online database. (This idea was so persistent, I even asked to borrow my brother’s phone to text myself some notes!)

While this year’s blueberry season may be long over, this time of year is great to think about cleaning up your GIFTS Online database. As you begin cleaning up, here are some lessons to keep in mind.

Look at things from a different perspective
Oftentimes, the best bunches of blueberries are found by shifting your stance away from what feels normal. Kneeling, squatting, jumping, or stepping toward the side of the bush can give you a whole new view. Do the same with your database. Take on a slightly different perspective by running searches outside of what you use on a day-to-day basis, exploring new reports in the standard report library, or building some new dashboard charts.

Get in the weeds and get your hands dirty
Another place the best berries hide is in the tall weeds at the base of the bush. The only way to get to them is to get a little dirty and push past the weeds (usually small corn stalks). Getting in the weeds means something a little different when applied to a database cleanup, but the sentiment is the same. Being in the weeds can feel like a lot of messy work, but getting in there usually yields amazing results.

Sometimes, manual sorting is the best option
When blueberry picking, there are three types of blueberries you can pick—hard and green under-ripe berries, squished and mushy overripe berries, or plump and juicy just-right-ripe berries. Since you pay by the pound, you want to minimize the amount of over and under ripe blueberries in your bucket. That said, as hard as you try, overripe berries sometimes fall into your bucket as you pick and under-ripe berries join the fray if you pick a full handful at once. The only way to get the bad ones out and keep the berries you want is to manually sort through and toss the offenders. The same goes for database cleanup. No matter how hard we try, there will be times imperfect data ends up in our system, and sometimes, the only way to get it cleaned correctly is to take the time to manually sort through, piece by piece.

Practice, practice, practice
Every year, my younger brother picks less blueberries than me. He tries to chalk it up to “quality over quantity,” but really, I just have more practice. Remember this when cleaning up your GIFTS Online database. With practice comes the knowledge and confidence to more quickly complete cleanup tasks, making every iteration easier than the last.

Many hands make light work
This final lesson is an age old saying that still rings true today. With blueberries, the more people you have picking, the faster you’ll meet your goal. The same goes for data cleanup. By splitting up the work that needs to be done between a select group of capable people, the project will take less time and feel much less overwhelming!

To learn more about database cleanup, including what tasks you should complete and how, register for Blackbaud University’s new course, GIFTS Online: Database Cleanup. This training is included in your Learn More training subscription. Not a Learn® subscriber? Find out more about Learn and chat with a representative today!
Posted by Veronica Sheppard on Oct 5, 2017 1:59 PM America/New_York