DARS Newsletter May 2015

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Dear Users,

Welcome to this month’s DARS Newsletter. As usual, previous newsletters can be found at https://www.darscentral.ox.ac.uk/newsletters

And remember that you can also contact the DARS Help Desk

In this issue:

Service Pack 10
Highlighted Wiki Articles
Investing in Data Quality
New BBIS Website
Data Entry Assistants
Action to take in the event of a data protection breach

Changes, enhancements and fixes

Service Pack 10

Service Pack 10 was released into the live environment on 21 April. This contains a number of important fixes – however, following the release, a number of users experienced problems with DARS, notably in the area of Marketing Efforts. The DARS Support Centre worked closely with IT Services and Blackbaud staff in order to resolve the problem, and a Major Incident review involving all parties will be held on 17 June. An update will follow in due course.


A number of data fixes were applied to live, including

  • Change 21227.This change updated approximately 334,000 records relating to event attendances; people who have accepted historic event invitations now have their status changed to attended.
  • Change 21222. This change corrected 393 records where ‘Sir’ records had the wrong name format.
  • Change 21675. This change affected 245,708 education records, and is a key part of a multi-step activity to ensure that medical degrees can be correctly recorded and processed in DARS. The change created two new education attributes, populating the underlying code tables via script and then adding the attribute values onto every education history where the degree ID matches a SITS route code.
  • Change 21736. The College Benchmarking Reports have been updated to include the figures that took the Oxford Thinking campaign over £2bn.

DARS news and features

Highlighted Wiki articles

Adding Group Members in Bulk

At this time, it is not possible to populate Groups in DARS en masse using Selections. This article provides guidance and instructions on how to work around this fact, a great time saver if you’re aiming to use Groups in DARS to manage stewardship societies, alumni chapters or regional volunteer networks.

What Suppressions Should I Use and When?

Do you sometimes get confused to which suppressions you should be using for a particular purpose? Fear not as help is at hand! This article explains what suppressions are, how they work and how you can use them to ensure that your communications are compliant with the Data Protection Act, Privacy of Electronic Communications Regulation and constituent’s personal preferences. It includes worked and contextual examples to make topic as clear as possible.

Import Glossary

This article is the counterpart of the DARS Query Node Glossary. Where the Query Node Glossary provide guidance on how to get information ‘out’ of DARS, this guide will provide comparable support and guidance regarding how one gets information back ‘in’ to the system. This includes various hints, tips and best practice notes for importing data for a range of purposes.

DARS Staff changes

We are delighted to announce that Joanna Moran, the DARS Revenue Officer, has been appointed to the post of Functional Analyst in the DARS Functional and Helpdesk team. An announcement of the appointment of a second Functional Analyst will follow next month.

Investing in Data Quality

"Screenshot of Dars team"

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the Development Office has kindly provided extra funding for us to employ temporary staff at grade 5 to assist with the huge task of merging currently identified duplicate records on DARS.  Joining regular Data Officer Lorraine McKenna (left) are (from left to right) Rita Mansuryan, Mattia Cartolano, Aswathy Mohanaprakas and Anthony Williams.  As a team their task is to remove approximately 10,000 duplicate constituent records from DARS. After two weeks, including an extensive two day training programme, we are pleased to report that 1,500 duplicates have already been merged and tidied up.

New BBIS website

The launch of the latest BBIS website, for the School of Geography and the Environment, is planned for 8 June.

Data Entry Assistants

If you have any data entry tasks that need attending, why not book one of the DARS Support Centre’s Data Entry Assistants (DEA)? They are trained on DARS to undertake a variety of data entry tasks that enhance the quality of the data, and some have training in the area of Gift Entry, so they can assist in bulk adding donations such as during a telethon. They are available for 10 to 20 hours per week and are charged to participants at £11.83/hour.

To book a DEA, simply complete the DARS Data Entry Assistants Request Form found at https://www.darscentral.ox.ac.uk/requestforms and return it to the DARS Help Desk. We will then get in contact to arrange the fulfilment of the request.


Action to take in the event of a data protection breach

In the event that you or one of your colleagues learn that a data protection breach has occurred, or believes that one could occur, you should alert the DARS Support Centre as soon as possible, and cc the Head of DARS Support Centre and the Associate Director of Development - Systems. The process is described on the DARS Wiki at: Process for Raising Possible Data Protection Breaches.

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