What's the Best Way to Refresh Data?

October 8, 2018 Susan Sloan

We all know that data is the lifeblood of a school management system, so it's no surprise that we often get questions about the best ways to keep it up to date. Well, did you know that the K–12 Data Team has been working hard to bring you new options for bulk updates? It's true—and we're very excited about them! 

When you log into Blackbaud's education management solutions as a data manager, you’ll see these new options under Data import (Core→ System tools → Data import → Create import job). You can choose from the following:

  • Address & Salutations
  • Citizenship-Resident
  • Phone Number
  • Publishable Custom Field
  • User Email
  • Username

For each of these new imports, you can select “View file layout help” to see a complete list of required and optional fields. Previously, you would have had to submit a data refresh file that included all imported fields and allowed time for our support team to process the file. The huge benefits to these new imports are that you can update specific individual fields and they are processed quickly! Files with less than 5,000 records process almost immediately, while files with more than 5,000 records process overnight. If you have 5000+ records and you’re in a hurry, you can break up large files and process multiple batches.

These imports cannot be used to remove existing data and replace it with a blank but they will overwrite existing data with updated information. The reason for this is that we want to preserve the data you have if a blank is inadvertently included in the file. We can match to your existing records using either the user_id or host_id field with one exception: the username import can only match on user_id. Let’s take a quick look at each of the imports.

The Address & Salutations import is a great option when you need to add or update addresses and/or salutations. This is an easy solution to keep addresses updated if you’re working between two systems or when you need to add or update salutations for mailing labels.

The Citizenship-Resident import will allow you to add or update information in the fields you'll find under the Citizenship/Resident area of the contact card. This includes ethnicity, citizenship, and primary language to name a few.

The Phone Number import can be used to update or add new phone numbers. Keep in mind that each user can only have one of each phone so there's no concern about creating duplicates.

The Publishable Custom Field import can be used to populate custom fields after your initial data conversion. There may also be custom fields you need to update at the beginning of each year and this allows you to do so in bulk.

The User Email import is the perfect option if you did not include email addresses in your initial data conversion files. Many schools also assign school email addresses when students reach a certain grade level and this tool can be used to add them quickly.

The Username import will allow you to fill in missing usernames. This is a huge improvement to manually updating each record on an individual basis. This tool can also be beneficial if you are changing the format of your usernames.

We hope you’ll love these new additions as much as we do! Don’t forget to check out School forms for additional options to make sure your data is up to date. If you have additional suggestions, please add them to our idea bank. 

About the Author

Susan Sloan

Susan Sloan joined Blackbaud in 2011 as a Customer Support Analyst for the Education Edge and Student Billing. She has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of K-12 schools as a consultant for Blackbaud's School Management solution. Susan currently focuses on helping schools migrate their data into Blackbaud's School Management solution.

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