7. Gauging Performance and Impact /

7.1 Managing information securely

STANDARD:

We have a system in place to securely store and manage information.

To meet the standard in full, you have an appropriate system in place for storing, managing and analysing the information you collect. Your team members understand the system and use it consistently. Your system produces information that can readily be analysed.

Information is only as helpful as the use you are able to put it to. So, as far as possible, try to ensure that your social enterprise has good systems in place to store, analyse, and communicate your data.


Data systems can range from paper-based records, to simple spreadsheets and databases through to complex customer relationship management (CRM) systems:

  • Paper-based systems. Most organizations are moving away from paper-based systems given that different records stored in different places can be lost or destroyed, usually accessed by only one person at a time, and can be time-consuming to analyze.
  • Spreadsheets. For small organizations, simple spreadsheets may be enough to collect and store information and track performance against indicators. However, as things get more complicated you may wish to consider a database or other software.
  • Standardized Software Packages. There are many standardized software packages, including databases, customer relationship management systems, and impact reporting systems. In some cases, these packaged applications have been created with the needs of small organizations in mind.
  • Custom-designed Software. For larger organizations, particularly those operating in a specialist field or across multiple sites or programs, the use of customized software can become necessary. Of course, custom-built options can also come at a considerable cost.

Course 7 in the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute provides a checklist to assess whether your systems actually meet your needs.

There are more and more software systems becoming available for impact management that you could investigate. You can find some examples here.

When selecting a product or system, ensure that you are clear on the uses and functionality you require and whether there is a simple off-the-shelf solution available.

As your organization grows, and the information you collect increases, you will also need to think about how your systems and processes will need to evolve.