Building Queries, Selection and Exports in CRM - Should you centralize this function?
During the your Blackbaud CRM™ sales process, you were most likely told that the CRM Ad-hoc Query tool is “very intuitive” and “any end user can build queries”, only to find out during implementation that it may be a more daunting task than you expected.
Many CRM customers have moved to a more centralized approach to building queries and selections for marketing efforts, event invitations, other correspondence and reporting to ensure data quality. Your organization more than likely already has a core group of “data analysts” performing this function prior to adopting CRM, and those individuals are most familiar with your data and its structure. This knowledge is key to developing proper queries, reports and exports.
Ad-hoc Query in CRM is not designed to be a reporting tool - it’s a grouping tool which creates a selection of IDs. One of the most common mistakes CRM users make is to build a query with a one-to-many field in the output, export it and then exclaim “There are duplicates in my export file.” But CRM does not consider it a duplicate. For example, if you put “Address” in the output of the query and your Constituent has 3 addresses, the Constituent will have three lines in the export. You can easily remedy this by using an Export Definition, but then that is another area where an end user would need to be trained.
Some best practice recommendations:
During Marketing and Communications Design, compile a list of standard selections that can be re-used in the majority of your mailings and emails and build them prior to Go- Live.
Ask end users for the queries, lists and reports they use most frequently. Have your “centralized” data analysts build them prior to Go- Live and give end users access to run them but not edit them.
Utilize Smart Queries. Smart queries are a great tool because they prompt the user for pre-selected data without the user having to build the query from scratch.
Ask for Advanced Query training. If you feel you have not received adequate training to build the more complex queries you might need, ask for a deeper dive into the functionality.
Utilize peer training for your end users. There are always a few unexpected people in your organization who love building queries - use them to train others!
If you are still on the fence about who should have access to Query, train your users and give them a test afterwards. This is a very effective way to determine “who gets it and who doesn’t”.