group management, group management mistake, why groups fail, group membership management, excel hell,

Group Management Mistake: Excel Hell

Are we all familiar with Excel Hell? This is the eventuality where your group has come to rely on spreadsheets to track membership. It makes sense that many groups would fall back on Excel: it’s readily available and most people can muddle their way through its most basic functions. But there are myriad reasons why groups should consider other options for group membership management.

The road to Excel Hell is paved with good intentions

As the group evolves, there is no good way of validating on an ongoing basis the information you’re collecting; this info might include members, addresses, phone numbers, roles, preferences, sign-up history, and any number of other group-specific details. Periodically, it will be someones job to take on the chore of culling and updating a spreadsheet that has become outdated.

Another issue with group member management via Excel is that it provides nothing more than a snapshot in time. What was accurate last week most likely will not be accurate in one month, or six months. Furthermore, how can Excel help leaders to know who is still actively participating in the group, contact info accuracy notwithstanding? The answer is that it cannot. Excel does not integrate well with any other tools or platforms that groups may use in order to plan, communicate, or decide.

Cloud-based solutions only solve for one problem…and then only partially

Often groups will turn to Google Sheets or Google Drive so that members can stay in charge of updating their info on their own. Asking everyone to periodically review and edit their own contact info on a cloud-based document has it’s own unique pitfalls. First, there is still no way for leaders to easily assess who has become inactive. And on top of that, cloud docs rely on members being technology competent, which they of course may or may not be. Google Suite competence could be an unfortunate barrier to participation for some. Putting the whole groups info in one clumsy editor’s hands risks the whole list being deleted or compromised. Often enough, members will have concerns over making all of their information available to all of the group, and that is a reasonable enough  concern that it bears leaders’ attention to come up with a better option.

Online group membership management platforms FTW

Transitioning your group to a membership management platform that seamlessly handles all of this is a good way to get out of the time suck of constantly managing the spreadsheet. If excel is a static roster, an online platform provides a dynamic network that members can self-validate. Also, leaders can then efficiently see who has missed the last 4 meetings, or who has fallen out of the group conversation for a bit, or who hasn’t even logged into their account for months. With that critical info, the group membership management process can be about member engagement and retention, and not just address collecting. Being able to shoot out a quick, “just wanted to check in” email is a good use of leader time.  Sifting through sticky notes, emails, and text updates about who has moved and who’s recently changed their cell number is not.

With an online platform, members CAN update their own contact info in their account settings and also decide what info to share with the group. They will not be able to see other member’s info unless those members have chosen for them to be able to see it, which solves the privacy issue that the spreadsheet will not.

Check out Groupeasy’s integrated platform of group management tools if you’re interested in knowing more about how to streamline your process!

Happy Grouping,

The Team at Groupeasy

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