Stage 1 - Scope

This is the first ‘thinking’ part that you need to do. It involves zooming out of your organisation and looking at it holistically from above.

How do you currently do things?

We normally hear two kinds of answers here:

  • We’ve got lots of spreadsheets that don't link together
  • We’ve already got a database but it’s not working for us 

Addressing both of these requires time. The first part of your scoping exercise is about making space for this. It involves thinking about:

  • Budget you have available. There’s the initial cost of buying the database, customising it and training users. Then there’s normally an annual cost for the licence. Some companies charge for ongoing support and you may also need to put some money aside for training new users. If you’re considering a ‘free version’ of a database, consider the hidden costs. Some free versions limit what you can do and you’ll almost always need to pay for some help getting it set up even if the licence is free.
  • The equipment that you currently have or need to acquire - e.g. smartpones or tablets.
  • Whether it’s more effective to invest in the systems you have already or start afresh.  Complete a systems audit identifying where you current data is stored and what the pros and cons are - use the template below to get started.
  • The people that you want your database to hold information about.  Is it just service users or do you want to manage donors, partners, members and volunteers too?  Who else will use the data in your database - use the stakeholder mapping template below to document these users.
  • What will be the most effective way, given the culture of your organisation, to bring everyone on the journey?


Image of an arrow pointing downwards to indicate a download  Systems audit template to download (Excel file)

Image of an arrow pointing downwards to indicate a download  Stakeholder mapping template to download (Excel file)