Updating the stakeholder database is one of those jobs for the quieter work times. It never really seems urgent until the task has become too big to tackle!

Now is the perfect time for any organisation or government agency to update their database, especially the larger community contact lists. Workplace changes over recent months have meant many contact details have changed and people have altered how they want to be communicated with, and even what they want to hear about.

You should really audit your database every year

But before you get started ask yourself, do you or someone working with you, even know how to use the database? Modern databases, particularly those used for community engagement, are very sophisticated beasts and powerful analytical tools. If your database expert no longer works with you, it’s time for some upskilling or specialist help.

Once you’re armed with operation skills, here are some steps to help.

Firstly, is the structure or framework of the database suitable for your current operations? Review how information is grouped and collated and make sure it aligns with who you want to keep in touch with and how you want to communicate with them. For some, it is grouping people by special interest, for other organisations it is geographic location, and for others it’s relationship history. Your own database style guide will help ensure all team members enter data consistently.

Once the structure is working for you, integrate the data and check for duplications. If you host regular events there is a good chance the attendance is similar at each and some stakeholders have been captured twice. Simple report running will identify duplications.

Also, look for gaps and missing information by sorting for missing fields. Checking contact email addresses and asking peers to check the details of their connections, will all help build a more effective database resource. In fact, you could make staff accountable for the accuracy of their contacts in the database and even make it part of a regular Quality Assurance program.

Now check the last time contact was made with the list members. Can some realistically be deleted or archived?

With a clean, neat, structured database you are ready for some testing mechanisms. Plan the next e-newsletter, stakeholder survey, event invite or webinar and measure the uptake. Monitor bounce backs and error messages.

Maintain the database regularly and you will always be ready for that urgent communication, a new survey or the big event.