In August 2013, Colmore BID asked me to add some support to their renewal campaign by cleansing and analysing their data and helping co-ordinate the team’s time during the last precious two months before the close of the ballot. Talk about baptism of fire! It was an exhilarating, relentless but brilliant experience. At the end of the process (rewarded with one of the highest renewal turnouts in the country) we had learnt so much and put together a ‘bible’ of materials, tips and processes for their next ballot campaign.
Data is critical to the success of BID ballot. Colmore had cracking data because the team diligently looked after it. The problem was that powerful analysis needed to be performed manually. Essentially, running up to ballot, I sat for 6 weeks running reports with my new best friend, Excel formulas. We even even rang a bell every day to go over the reports and plan the next day’s calls and meetings with voters. (I like to think this is how US Presidential campaigns work.)
The ballot success placed data management as a firm priority for the team forever more. I stayed on to help with this. One day, Mike walked into the office, took off his sunglasses and said to me: “we need to build a database for BIDs”. After weeks of questions and hesitation, I agreed. Which one of us is cooler in this anecdote?
By end of 2013, I started designing what the database needed to do. It needed to a) manage all people, contact information and record meetings/calls, events they’d attended etc, b) perform all the ballot campaign analysis that I’d done manually and c) link it all together in order to guide a BID Manager on where to allocate precious resources. Essentially, my objective was to do myself out of a job.
Development began but over the next year we hit some technical and resourcing problems and the project stalled in October 2015. After exploring a variety of options, Mike took over all development and coding in May 2016. He started from scratch and in six weeks he’d created BIDBase. Colmore BID beta-tested BIDBase from the start and Canterbury BID came on board in October to help iron out bugs and suggest tweaks to enhance its features.
Unless you have a really small dataset, Excel spreadsheets won’t cut it. This flat database places a ridiculously onerous burden on its ‘care giver’ and simply can’t perform sophisticated analysis easily. If you imagine Excel is a piece of paper, BIDBase is a cube with a web of connections between all corners and sides. It’s designed to be clever and save time. Don’t be fooled though, someone still needs to input and maintain the data - it’s clever but it’s not telepathic!
BIDBase is available via free and premium price plans so BIDs can choose what works for them. You can view a 1 minute video on BIDBase under “Features” or even ask us for a login to view the fictional account of Ambridge BID.
It’s been a labour of love and BIDBase is only officially just over 1 week old but we’re very proud of the finished product and delighted with the reception it’s received.