Civis Analytics helps organizations across sectors use data science to improve outcomes. While working across multiple engagements and sectors, we’ve determined the most successful organizations invite their entire team to participate in building a data-driven culture by setting every employee’s sights on central metrics. Many of these successful organizations complement big data with Google Sheets, as they allow employees outside the data team to easily bring their own data points into the mix, and in turn, contribute to a data-driven culture. This is why organizations (including Civis Analytics!) use them so often, and why we built a seamless connection to Google Sheets within the Civis platform.
There are hundreds of millions of Google Drive accounts, and the popularity is only growing. Organizations leverage the collaborative nature of Google Sheets to make concurrent changes in a single document that reflect inputs from various teams. While Google Sheets typically do not contain the big data that is the bread and butter of an organization’s operation, they contain the critical elements of metadata that provide context for big data — benchmarks, dictionaries, and more. Their collaborative nature makes them a great way to gather data from large groups of people (especially when using Google Forms), and also to distribute aggregated information back out.
With our integration, we’re making it easy for organizations to incorporate Google Sheets into their data flow: Civis users can import Google Sheets, directly populating Redshift tables. As with all platform functions, these imports can be scheduled or triggered by other tasks, allowing platform users to build workflows for non-technical team members to set their data in motion. Additionally, users can export query results to Google Sheets, allowing for quick and easy report creation and information distribution.
To put this in context, I’ll share two examples:
2014 Election in North Carolina
In my previous job, I led the data operation for a political campaign in North Carolina, and used the Civis Platform for the majority of my work. I synced in data from disparate databases to unify information on field organizing, fundraising, emails, and digital activity. While I could query at any time to count contacts or dollars, Google Sheets allowed our team to share an understanding of whether we were on track to win on Election Day. Department directors worked with their regional counterparts to enter into and edit goals in Google Sheets. Using the Civis Platform, I scheduled an import of these goals every Friday at 5:00 PM, followed by a single query that merged metrics and the corresponding goals. My team iterated on this process by writing their own queries and exporting the results to Google Sheets to share aggregates with regional leads, who used past work to guide future goal creation.
Non-Profit Audience Expansion
Civis Analytics currently works with Global Citizen, a large non-profit focused on global poverty, to expand their audience. Their digital agency places online ads to find new activists who will work to end global poverty, and the resulting data syncs into Civis. When new activists sign up via these digital ads, their sign up comes with valuable metadata that changes dynamically, related to the message, vendor, and cost of the ad. The agency simply updates a Google Sheet when changes occur, and the Civis users seamlessly incorporate this metadata through scheduled imports. A scheduled script then joins the agency’s metadata to the email database, and exports back out to Google Sheets clear reporting on cost and message success.
For those like me who already capture innumerable data points in Google Sheets, import them and start querying! For others, consider Google Sheets as an avenue to welcome other parts of your organization into a data-driven culture. And as always, automate – or in the words of the infamous infomercial, “Set it and forget it!”