I recall vividly, I was still in my first year in an entry-level fundraising position with a local non-profit. I was responsible for entering gifts into our donor database, and — as will happen at least once to everyone working in a database — I accidentally, irreversibly deleted a record.
What happened next? I had to work with our CRM support to do a full database restoration that would end up taking a few days to complete. In the meantime, the rest of the staff — everyone from the Executive Director to our Development team — had to revert back to the stone-age and record their information on spreadsheets and post-its, because anything they entered between my mistake and the restoration would be overwritten.
The lesson here? Back up your data locally! Frequently.
I wish I had realized at the time that taking just a few minutes — a few simple clicks — to export our data to Excel and save it on our local server, I would have saved myself considerable embarrassment, and my team countless time and energy wasted on duplicating their data tracking efforts.
Why? Because I could have opened up this Excel file, searched for the record that I deleted and had the data instantly accessible to me to re-enter (or import, if you are feeling savvy) into our CRM. The whole ordeal would have been solved in minutes.
Now, if I had deleted the entire database (I’ve seen it happen!), then I could, and should, probably use a professional support team’s help for a full database restoration.
With 20/20 hindsight, I realize that I should been proactive in thinking about a few things:
- Backing up the critical top-level objects like Contacts, Deals and Products, but not forgetting to…
- Backup the items associated with these records as well, like Notes, Activities and Attachments
- Saving the export files to Excel, named with the timestamp and object so that anybody can easily locate and reference the files
For minor (albeit awful) infractions like mine and the inevitable emergency, doing data exports locally can save a lot of headache and wasted time. If you find yourself unmotivated to devote time to this every day (it’s only a few minutes!) don’t forget that even something so simple or minor can have a major impact on the rest of your team and business.