January 1, 2008

Abstract: Our Piece of the Pie

Data should be a source of strategic value; here's how one youth-serving organization made it so.

By: Alex Cortez, Liana Vetter

Data should be a source of strategic value. Too often, it's a source of incomplete or misleading information. That was the case at Our Piece of the Pie® (OPP), a Hartford, Connecticut-based youth-serving organization

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OPP was already collecting much of the data it needed. The problem was that the various streams of data—beneficiary, financial, and operational—were kept in different systems. As a result, OPP’s leaders did not have a way to consider it together to get a comprehensive view of the organization. For example, lacking the ability to integrate a program’s financials with its beneficiary data, OPP was unable to tell if certain groups of beneficiaries were more expensive to serve than others. As a result, it was hard to predict how changes in the organization’s mix of participants (such as a shift towards higher-need youth) would affect its financial position.

What they needed was a way to join the data—a system that would make it easy for staff to collect and analyze it. OPP leaders from different parts of the organization had to be able to see the data that was most relevant to them. Then they needed to learn to use that data to drive their programmatic, cost-management, growth, and fund development decisions. This case study illustrates how OPP’s leadership team took control of its data and learned to use it in making better decisions.



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