April 4, 2005
Note: This week’s column is being written by Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Bill D’Andrea
Throughout the past year you have read or heard about the new software package that has been implemented in our IPTAY office. The program is a much needed, state of the art database that is capable of multiple queries to help our office be more customer oriented. We hope you have noticed the increased communication this past year. However, our efforts to develop a better system came with a few challenges.
Honesty is the best policy, and frankly the conversion to Paciolan (the new software package) from the Clemson University “mainframe” (the program used since the early 1970s) did not go as smoothly as planned. Many of you have caught our errors and because of your quick response we have been able to identify many of the problems. That is the good news.
The “not-so-good news” is reviewing our donor records to ensure that we have accurate information is going to take some time and patience. Before we present our solution, rest assured that the integrity of your giving history has not been compromised. Records of giving and point accumulations are sound, and of course, a hard copy is available for verification.
In order for us to provide a better understanding of what we are experiencing, we need to quickly look at the historical record keeping strategies of IPTAY.
Prior to the use of computers to track donor records, IPTAY maintained this information through the use of index cards, files, and spreadsheets. At the time that was normal in many businesses. The early 1980s were exciting years at Clemson and donor giving was at an all time high.
To manage our data we began using computer technology that was being used all over campus. The “mainframe,” as it is known, was state of the art at that time. We were able to keep track of our donors’ addresses, giving history, and points. At the time the system satisfied our need. Jump ahead to 2004. If you know anything about computers and software, you will know that today’s technology is light years ahead of what we used twenty years ago.
Initially, Paciolan was created as a ticketing software package and has recently become more involved in fund development. The ticket office was already using Paciolan, so with the transition came the ability to share information between ticketing and fund development. The need to share this information was essential, since our IPTAY system is joined at the hip with our ticketing distribution.
There are several challenges that we have encountered during the transition and fortunately we have been able to diagnose them. First, some of the information from the mainframe was not standardized before we began the information transition. Secondly, we have had some complications with the procedures of our online giving. Presently we are working with Paciolan to redesign our online giving website to make it more user friendly. And finally, and most infrequently, is that we have made human errors during our data entry (for example, misspelling names and addresses).
So what is the solution? We are in the process of utilizing a database consultant who will guide us in the clean up process as well as the personnel training aspects. This is not uncommon in business mergers such as bank acquisitions. We are 100% committed to completing this task start to finish in the next three months. (This will be a tedious task but it is reasonable to review all of our active donor records, with various pieces of information in each record.)
Meanwhile we will continue to maintain operations and be diligent to our new data entries. While much of our cleaning will be done through mass correction, we always want your feedback. One way to verify your information is in the football ticket application process. Please be sure all information is completed accurately on your form so that we can verify and/or update our records.
Also, please check your IPTAY card to make sure that your number is correct. In some instances a new account was created in the conversion because of the inconsistent non-standardized data. If the number is not correct please let our office know. It is a very simple process to merge the new account with the one that reflects your previous giving.
Finally, if you receive mail from us that has inaccuracies, please do not hesitate to contact us. With your help we can scrub our system and make the necessary changes.
There are several ways to contact our office. If you have a computer, the best way to notify us of inaccuracies is through the IPTAY link on www.clemsontigers.com. You will find an icon for our “Suggestion Box” at the bottom of the IPTAY page. Please use that tool to send an email to our office and the changes will be made. If you do not have access to a computer you can call our office at (864) 656-2115.
It is important that you realize that the staff and administration of IPTAY are committed to upholding the rich tradition of the organization. We feel it is necessary for you to understand our challenges not because we feel good about the mistakes that have been made, but to assure you that we are focused on a resolution. Ultimately, we will be more effective, efficient, and donor-friendly.
Bill D’Andrea Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs
Past Columns March 16, 2005February 23, 2005February 15, 2005February 9, 2005February 1, 2005January 25, 2005January 18, 2005January 11, 2005January 6, 2005December 15, 2004December 7, 2004November 30, 2004November 17, 2004November 10, 2004November 3, 2004October 26, 2004October 21, 2004October 11, 2004October 4, 2004
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