The power of Shepherd’s Staff comes not only from its ability to keep and track data but also from the ability to find and report data. In order to get the most out of these abilities, it is imperative that you keep your data as consistent as possible. Let’s look at a few examples to see this idea a little more clearly.
» Example 1: Say you have two members who transfer to another church. In this case we will say they transferred to an LCMS church. In order to show this in the software, we need to set the members Removed By statuses. For the first member, suppose we set his Removed By field to read “Transfer to LCMS” but the second member’s status simply to read “Transfer LCMS.” This might seem okay at the moment, but when we go to search or run a report for members that have been removed, a problem will arise. If we search for all Removed By statuses that are equal to “Transfer to LCMS,” we will not pick up the member whose status reads “Transfer LCMS.” This is because the search will match the exact text within that field. The best practice is to choose one wording and stick with it. If you decide you don’t like the wording used in the past, you can use a utility like Mass Update to change all the records containing that text to your new choice.
» Example 2: Another task that shows the value of using consistent data conventions is printing out mailing labels. On every Household record there are fields for label name styles. These are text fields containing data that has been typed in by a user. So the Smith household might have a style 1 label that says “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and the Jones household might have one that just says “Bob and Mary.” Again, this could be fine until you run your mailing labels based on Label Name 1. At that point the Smith household label will look fine, but the Jones household label will not work because all it will say is “Bob and Mary” on the top line.
So by keeping your data consistent, you can see how it will save time down the line and also reduces confusion for volunteers and other employees that only use the software part of the time.
Tip: Making a list of these data conventions using a chart similar to the one below.