ISO: 21st Century - information wants out of 3 ring binders
January 10, 2014 1:37 PM   Subscribe

We have a number of (internal) groups providing information about (external) clients. Help me figure out the best way to track this information for easy report generation.

While the question says most of it, here's the detail you likely need. TL; DR summary at bottom.

Periodically we get asked by external stakeholders (a mix of clients, members, neighborhood business groups, city gov't, etc.) to report on what we've done for their constituent base in a recent period of time. The period of time depends on how regular we're in touch: some ask for this monthly, some it's once a year.

The information gathering part of it works really well. Each department (communications, editorial, etc.) sends a report (word or excel, usually) to the central person about the work they've done for external clients/members each week.

Where we struggle is how to best organize the info provided so that we can report on it to the stakeholders. Until the end of last year, it lived in 15 3-ring binders which I HATE as it's nearly impossible to effectively go through the binders to provide the report. With a new year and new central person with whom I'm working closely, we're moving toward a (semi) digital solution. This will work for us as the vast majority of the information is either online or in a format that it could be scanned and posted on a shared drive or intranet.

Our initial thinking is a spreadsheet with multiple tabs either for location or month where the central person could input the weekly info. For example, Editorial - January - two articles on Museum X. Then when a report is needed, we could filter/sort on location to get the links and print out the physical content, send an email with the links, and/or input it into a PowerPoint deck, etc.

Is this the best way, or is there another we should look at? Our CRM application has a "member report card" feature which we can and sometimes do use, but that doesn't fully solve to it as some who we report on aren't members and aren't in the CRM. Totally up for any ideas -- and there probably is a budget for a good solution if there is a good tool.

TL; DR: is a spreadsheet with links to the content the best solution for a central repository used for reporting to external constituents?

Thank you on behalf of my sanity and my papercut-free fingers.
posted by TravellingCari to Technology (5 answers total)
Evernote it all. Evernote business is set up to do things like this and is much cheaper and more flexible than setting up a proper document repository. Everyone can get access even if they don't have Evernote themselves, and you can create shared notebooks for each binder that are fully accessible and just need to have things added with an agreement on tags.

In my work evernote, I have multiple notebooks, some nested, and I tag them by dates and subjects (2010 01, 2010, reports, kindergarten) so I can easily pull up all the related entries by dates, departments and type.

If you can get the security authorised, dumping everything in Google Drive is also an option, but that's assuming your filetypes all can be easily read in Google Drive.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:42 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks viggorlijah!
One of our IT folks loves Evernote. Seriously, touts it at every possible minute for other uses so this might be a project right up his alley. I've used it occasionally, but I'm not too familiar with the scope of what it can do.
posted by TravellingCari at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2014

For future people stumbling across this, we're evaluating three different methods in a trial period for ease of use, best function for our needs. They are:

-Evernote as above.
-our CRM, which has more capabilities then we realized
-a program called WebDAM, which we're exploring for other purposes, but may also suit this.

I'll report back in more detail when we choose for future Ask-ers
posted by TravellingCari at 4:39 PM on February 4, 2014

For the record, we went more or less with viggorlijah's suggestion. Shared note books, with some smaller areas having their own notebook due to volume. The nesting feature, which I was previously unfamiliar with, has been awesome as has tagging best practices to ensure consistency.

posted by TravellingCari at 6:56 AM on May 13, 2014

Just a final? update. We've used a slightly modified version of what viggorlijah suggested and it has worked perfectly. Internal powers that be remarked how quickly we could gather info to report. Tagging consistency is key, and we're still fine tuning but this is happily resolved.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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