The data that drives your business is only as good as what goes in. Your business information is one of your most valuable assets, and you need to forge a clear strategy about how to maintain quality control. The goal should be to produce frequent and consistent reports that reflect an accurate picture of your organization helping you to make better decisions and deliver actionable items.
The impact of having poor quality data can be devastating to your business and affect budgets, customer satisfaction, employee morale, and even your bottom line.
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To be sure that the data funneled through your system is worthwhile and valuable, you must test it for accuracy and consistency. There are dozens of software tools you can use to run simulations and queries to assess the data for any inaccuracies or duplicates. You must also evaluate it against your key performance indicators (KPIs) to make sure you are collecting the right data, in the right way, from the correct source.
Some common errors that frequently occur in corporate data are incomplete records, inaccurate files, and missing or outdated information. All of these things can be attributed to human error. Therefore specific safeguards should be in place when managing and monitoring data collection and data entry.
Companies who are successful at data profiling employ a checks and balances system rather than just one person managing all the data. Since information comes in from a variety of channels, a different set of criteria to profile the data may be necessary for each grouping.
After your data is collected and consolidated, the next important step is to clean it by removing any duplicates or partial records to get an accurate view of the whole. Only keep complete, up-to-date and accurate data. Since your business operations produce thousands of pieces of data, instead of trying to clean it all, which can be costly and time-consuming, you will want to devise a matrix of the most critical aspects to prioritize. Once you have pinpointed the most important data sets, now you can run queries and de-dupe the data for further cleansing and consolidation.
During this process, it may be necessary to evaluate whether or not it makes sense to spend the time and money re-creating essential data sets that are missing pieces or inaccurate. It all depends on how critical these answers are to your business decision-making questions.
Improving Data Entry and Eliminating “Dirty Data”
Now that you have a complete process for profiling and cleaning your data, you need to make sure that at the point of entry, fewer records go in dirty. You can do this by training data entry clerks and sales and marketing personnel on how to evaluate the records or information before putting them into play. Another way to eliminate missing or inaccurate information is guiding the process. For example, if you have online feedback forms or social media polls use “required” fields, so customers are forced to enter all the data, and you can use things like drop-downs with only selected choices again to drive results by providing only a set of specified answers.
Another critical piece of the puzzle is hiring well-training data administrators and managers with clear background profile, who are experts in the field of collecting and cleaning data to produce quality results. Train these managers thoroughly on your specific systems and needs, so things are done exactly the way you need them to be.
Benefits of Data Quality Strategy and Planning
Companies need to stay competitive and to do so you have to have quality data to base sound decisions upon. The benefits of having a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips are increased productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and retention. These things add up to more effective sales and marketing campaigns and more profit. Focusing on business information and public records can also help eliminate workplace accidents, streamline marketing efforts and assist with day-to-day business operations.
Using quality data to make decisions about your business is no longer an option, it is the most effective path to success and companies that realize that and put it to good use are ahead of the game.