Questions for any potential supplier
Importing data - does the database supplier make charges for importing leavers’ details? What about other imports? Address cleansing and wealth screening involve exporting data from the database, and reimporting it along with the additional information provided by the screening companies. Any database should allow you to create new fields in the database as needed for this, and make the export and reimport processes straightforward.
Good data requires consistency and good housekeeping, but the database should provide simple tools to assist this process. Does the database let you do mass updates? Copy data between fields for subsets of records? Intelligent and controllable de-duplication? Automatically create relationships (e.g. siblings) based on other relationships (e.g. parent-child)?
Audit trails - is every edit tracked so that you can see what was changed, when and by whom? Is it possible to recover deleted data when mistakes are made?
Searching and Reporting – are there limits on the number of fields in the database you can report on? Can you search on all fields stored in the database? Can you search across relationships (for instance, 'list the parents of pupils in year group range X-Y, that haven't attended an event in the last three years')?
Communication is paramount. Does the database let you send attractively formatted, trackable, personalised newsletters, at no extra cost, or do you have to use a paid-for third-party application? Can you include attachments? Are communications that you create automatically recorded in the database? Will it automatically record your incoming email, or do you have to copy and paste into data fields? Can you send text messages (for instance, last-minute event information)
Physical mailings are expensive – does the database allow you to automatically send one letter to one household? Can it automatically customise addressee and salutation information so that singles, married couples, and civil partnerships, are addressed correctly? Can you customise address labels? Can it minimise the need for printed letters by sending emails where it can, and generating letters only when it can’t?
Can the database easily be customised for other uses? For instance, Marketing, Archiving? Are there additional costs for this?
Access privileges - can you restrict access for certain users, to subsets of fields in the database, and also subsets of records?
What about changes to the system? How responsive is the supplier to requests for new features, and enhancements to existing ones?
Additional users - do you have to pay for additional users, or does the system allow you to set them up yourself? Do local administrative privileges automatically transfer to the Alumni website?
Other additional costs - are there any? Are they clear, or is it difficult to find out exactly what your costs are going to be?
Are you tied into a contract for several years?
Alumni web portal questions
Can you choose the styling of your alumni website? Or are you forced to use a provided template?
Are there additional charges for customisation of the site, additional pages, new menu items? If the site styling is based on the school site, what happens to your costs if the school site changes?
Can your alumni update their own details , including images?
Can they choose which aspects of their information are disclosed to others?
Are the changes automatically reflected in your CRM system (or do email notifications have to be entered manually)?
Do you get the opportunity to moderate , and accept or reject those changes?