Consistent Data Means Consistent Results


Jackrabbit is a data driven software. What data you put in, will ultimately determine what you get out. It is very easy when you have multiple people accessing your database to create inconsistencies in your data. Understanding how those inconsistencies are created and using measures to prevent them are critical.

Jackrabbit offers the flexibility to create your own customized values in your software. This is accomplished in the Drop-down List editor. Keeping control of these values and how they are used should be the job of an administrator.

A story that exemplifies it all

Recently on Facebook clients were asking for “checks and balances” to make sure all registrations fees were posted. In looking at one database, it became very clear that the way their transactions were entered would create a problem. 

The organization had 3 Transaction Type values being used to post registration fees: Registration Fee (Debit), Annual Membership (Debit) and Annual Membership Fee (Debit). This meant in order for them to pull a list of transactions for registration fees, they would have to run a Transaction Search 3 times and amalgamate their report in Excel.

How do inconsistencies happen?

It is not always apparent what values users should use when posting. It is important for an administrator to understand what values to post and set a precedent for users. Making values as obvious as possible is also important when adding them to your database. Jackrabbit provides default values for things like transactions and categories. You are NOT required to use these values and you can create values that are true to your operation and make sense to your staff. 

Hint: If you have values you no longer wish to use – don’t delete them immediately – HIDE them in the Drop-down list editor so that users can’t use them. If you delete values it will affect your ability to search on criteria.

Where values live and found by reports and searches?

In the Drop-down List Editor, lists are organized primarily by the areas they affect. For example: Class lists, Family lists, Transaction lists. Where lists are sorted in the editor is where they “live” and will be the source of any searches you make. For example the drop-down list Session is in the Class section of lists. The Session value lives on the Class record.

Become familiar with the source of information in your reports so that if things are not consistent you will know where to find the inconsistency and fix it.

Here is a simple illustration of what we mean:


How are values applied to fields in Jackrabbit?

There are several ways data is applied to your database:

  1. When setting up your classes in Jackrabbit the person responsible of “building” the database places many of the values on the areas specific to your database.
  2. Users also have the ability to select and apply data (for example when posting transactions).
  3. Jackrabbit defaults data. For example when you run batch processes, Jackrabbit has defaults for things like Tuition transactions.

Become familiar with your database and what it does. Run reports and watch to ensure values are consistent for transactions and enrollment.

Troubleshooting

A great way to troubleshoot for inconsistencies is to do a the “eyeball test”. For example: Run a Transactions – Search ... are all columns populated? Run a List of Active Classes ... are all columns populated?

Inform your staff and set procedures on what values to use when posting. Spot check and correct problems as they arise.

 Rules of Thumb

  • As much as possible become familiar with the values attached to transactions and enrollments. Understand how they are posted and populated.
  • Assign a system administrator to create values and teach staff on how to use them.
  • Do spot checks. Ensure your data fields are consistent and always populated. Use your Search Results and scan the columns. Ask yourself "Why is that value missing?".
  • Keep your drop-down values consistent and timely. Make sure that the values you create are not redundant and have a purpose. 
  • Use the Hidden and Private values next to your drop-down values. Values marked PRIVATE do not show publicly on registration forms and such. HIDDEN values do not show up in the database. For example:Old values should be marked as hidden.


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