Someone recently asked me for tips on how to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to data cleanup. Here is what I wrote.
Decentralize everything. Allow each staff member to manage his or her own events, groups, data entry. People actually like to be empowered to do that, especially when you can sit down and show them what to do and they know you are a resource for them. Don't view MP as "beneath" a person's job role. As you continue to evolve with MP, one person isn't going to be able to keep up with everything, and it's best to set expectations early. I say this especially with regards to event registration and Default Contacts (Assign Participant Tool). There will be some things you will want to keep centralized, such as combining duplicate contacts. That being said, when one of the centralized things feels like it's out of hand, it is a good idea to step back and question it. Because sometimes there is a problem that could be fixed to avoid so many duplicates or whatever doesn't *feel* right with regards to your data.
Focus on training and equipping your staff, rather than one or two central people "doing" everything. Focus on building relationships with staff members using MP as a relational tool. This pays back in dividends beyond your imaginations! The ideas, feedback, etc. that results is amazing and really opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work. I had staff members coming up with all sorts of creative solutions to data-related questions. The staff members didn't necessarily know *how* to accomplish something, but they felt comfortable coming to me to say, "Hey, I don't know if this is possible, but could we do XYZ?" Every time the answer was yes and saved them time and energy. (After leaving that staff, I had a sweet friend who said one of the most enjoyable parts of her job was working with me on data-related projects for her department.) You really are providing a ministry to your staff. Event registration in particular will open the floodgates of back-end work in a lot of ways, but in the end, it's worth it. You'll be forced into getting your data clean, but you'll have a treasure trove of participation data, as well. Even just using the out-of-the-box portal is going to create a lot of unassigned participants for children's events (e.g. childcare). That being said, I do still agree with you that whatever extra you can avoid is important. This is related to training and equipping, but I highly recommend having some sort of internal knowledge base. Something online and searchable is best, depending on what technology you have available internally (e.g. intranet or staff support site). Document everything, then train your staff to look there for answers. Again, people like feeling empowered to solve their own questions, and you hopefully avoid one person answering the same questions over and over again.
Hope this is helpful. Blessings to all!