Step 1:  Collect Accurate and Meaningful Data

Identify Minimum Data Requirements

The type and amount of data collected varies from one organization and program to another.  Therefore, it’s important that organizations identify their minimum data requirements.  This will be shaped by a number of factors:

  • the nature of the program and services
  • the client population being served
  • typical circumstances at the time of data collection.
  • official reporting requirements, eg: funders’ reporting standards

Establish Common Terms and Definitions

Many commonly used terms are open to interpretation.  For example, referral date could mean the date a client initiates contact with your organization via voicemail.  Or, it might mean the date one of your staff returns the message and actually speak with the client.  This can have a huge impact on how your client data gets interpreted and entered into the database, which in turn can effect your report output.  Establishing and documenting common terms and definitions will contribute to accurate and consistent data entry by all employees.