4 Tips for Auditing Slate Today in Preparation for Tomorrow

At RHB, we’ve picked up on some common patterns and needs across the hundreds of Slate databases we’ve worked in and Diagnostics we have conducted. Whether you have just implemented Slate or have been in Slate for years, it’s critical that you have a process in place to consistently audit and maintain users, data, objects and automations. Acknowledge the pain points, examine where Slate is today and look ahead with opportunity in mind. Before jumping into new features, do some spring cleaning and prepare the foundation for the future state of your Slate. 

If you’re wondering where to begin, consider the following four tips as a starting point:

Audit User Access and Permissions

Who has the keys? If you don’t have a process in place to continuously audit user access, you put your data at security risk. As your Slate database grows, the number of users accessing the database inevitably increases. It makes sense, right? As the processes grow, the users who are tasked with maintaining them in Slate do as well. People will come and go, but do you know who and when?

    • Leverage the Configurable Joins Users query base to pull one row per user in your Slate database. This will give you access to auditing users by status, including the last time they logged in. Are there users who have not logged into the database in over a year, yet remain active? It’s time to reach out and inactivate their access. 
    • Establish an internal user access and permission request policy and review process. Make sure it’s in alignment with any centralized campus IT policies and incorporate this into your overall security and governance strategy. You can take this a step further and implement an automatic communication that goes to staff when they have not been actively logging into Slate.
Evaluate and Clean Data

Too many reporting woes start with bad data. Are you storing the same data point in more than one place or in fields that are configured incorrectly? Spoiler alert: you probably are. Trust me–we’ve seen this during every Slate Diagnostic, but the good news is that you can fix it and prevent it going forward. Start by navigating to the Standard Query Library in Slate and run the field configuration review to flag fields that may be set as unique identifiers and audit fields that are flagged as potential configuration errors.  

Additionally, check for duplication of data collection efforts. Is there more than one field configured to store the same data point? Are there custom fields configured to store data that already has a home in Slate (e.g., address, email, school)? Are you using interactions, tags and custom fields to track the same lead source data? Streamline how the data is collected and be consistent. Having consistent and clean data collection is also the key to preventing duplicate records; however, a few will always sneak into the database. Rather than avoid checking the Consolidate Records tool—see it as the friend who has your back and is always looking out for your data. Check in on it frequently.

Declutter and Delete

Over time, processes change, roles change and Slate changes. Just like a house, you may end up with old furniture that may start to stack on top of new furniture, because you just don’t have the heart to get rid of it. Step back and ask yourself, “Do we use this?” Perhaps you need to take that moment to bask in the nostalgia of the campus tour template from four years ago, but if you haven’t created a new event from it in four years, it’s time to archive. Are there forms that were created for testing but never used or mailings that have never been sent? Maybe it’s time to deactivate and delete. 

A little Slate housekeeping is necessary to declutter the database and clean up the user interface. By doing so, the list of objects that appear in modules such as Forms, Queries and Deliver will be narrowed down to the active ones that require your attention most. Spark a little joy in your database and from there, move on to evaluate the folder structure for the objects that are left to organize.

Set, But Don’t Forget 

The beauty of Slate is that it will do what you tell it to do. This may include manually making updates or automating processes via rules, scheduled export/import processes or retention policies. The latter allows you to set (and sometimes forget) processes in your database. When you automate, you should consistently verify the results and look for opportunities to automate more efficiently. This often requires a switch to using Configurable Joins.

Rules, queries and imports aren’t the only sources of automation. Make a habit of checking  retention policies that may be actively running in your system and don’t forget to leverage tools such as the Job Activity Monitor to audit the performance of scheduled exports, queries and reports.

In the end, you’re never stuck with what you configured years ago. There are always opportunities to assess, refine and move forward with more efficiency. If you need help along the way, contact us

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Erin Gore

Erin is the Vice President for Client Technology at RHB.