As U.S. data center spending has topped the $13 billion mark, it’s important that we’re not just indiscriminately collecting data.
By improving data quality, your company can collect better data that you can use to a greater purpose than you might if you’re just sucking up information. While it’s great to collect data, if you’re not also focused on getting good data, you could be wasting your time and effort.
Here are four things to think about if you want your business to get the most out of your data collection.
1. Know The Purpose of your Data
If you want to improve data quality around your organization, you have to start with a foundation of what your data means. It takes a lot of time and effort to collect data. If you’re not focused on why you’re collecting data in the first place, you’re bound to waste your precious resources on it.
Every bit of data that you collect needs to have a use and a purpose. Otherwise, it ends up cluttering your collection and taking effort that you don’t need to spend. When data gets ignored, not only is that resource wasted but you’re wasting time and money collecting it, storing it, and sorting it.
When data is poorly maintained, it’s also more liable to contain errors. This defeats the purpose of collecting it in the first place. While much data is collected because we’re just sure we’re going to need it in the future, it’s important that it’s collected accurately and that it has a purpose.
If you’re not sure of why you’re collecting a piece of data, then don’t bother. Until you can justify the reason for cluttering your servers, don’t waste the effort.
2. Compare Your Data Internally
When you have a lot of static data, like information about your employees or location information for your clients, it’s good to keep it updated. You should go around and make sure that it’s fresh at least once a year. Taking a snapshot of your static data makes sure that you’re keeping your data clean all around.
Every time that you update your system, you should update your data as well. When the statuses of your employees change, you need to keep up with that. Not only does it make it easier to measure your needs in the future, but it also shows your employees that you care about happenings in their life.
It also means that you’re not going to run into errors sending out checks, tax forms, or anything else. You won’t send an invoice to the wrong address if you’re constantly checking in with clients.
When you take the time to make sure your data looks the same from year to year, you can clear up discrepancies before they become a problem.
3. Make Your Data Look Good
Good looking data makes a difference when it’s time to go through and sort it. Small typos or problems with capitalization could result in miscounts and errors. When you have data riddled with small errors, you’re asking for trouble.
While the data that you have might all be correct, when it comes time for your system to sort it, mistakes that are obvious to humans will snag robots.
Some of the small issues that happen are when sentence capitalization or word spacing fails. Two words without a space between them could mess up your sorting.
Sometimes zip codes and phone numbers will miss a digit or have an extra digit. This can screw things up when it comes time to use the data. The same kind of thing can happen to dates and social security numbers.
If you’re using Excel, dates might get converted to floating numbers. This makes things tricky when it comes time to sort or export the information. If you would prefer to have a comma separating the day of the month from the year, that’ll take extra finagling.
Put some standards into place for entering data as well. Do you want people to type “St.” or “street”? Do you want dashes or dots for phone numbers?
You need to choose in advance for cleaner data.
4. Keep a Primary Source
If your staff is in the habit of copying data from one location, manipulating it, then passing it on, that could be a problem. It means that any mistakes made along the way will persist, misinformation could spread, and the consequences could be intense. You could accidentally lead a client or a staff member off of an important list, which could lead to later communication issues.
They might miss important communication or fail to receive notifications that could make a difference in their productivity.
Every time that you pass the information along, an error could be introduced. When you replicate and re-distribute copies of data among team members, this might increase the convenience of the data but could cause other trouble. Increased risks of errors aren’t worth it.
If data is generated and saved more than once, that could also be an issue. If you have multiple local copies of a piece of data and it gets changed over and over, you might not keep all the changes on the same file. If one of these is written to your database and all the changes aren’t reconciled, you could end up passing along bad data to your team.
If you’re worried about duplicating code, take some time to learn more about which languages you should create your primary files with.
Improving Data Quality is Vital For Business
Everyone will tell you that data is the new oil but unless you’re focused on improving data quality, you’re collecting a lot of sandy crude. It needs to be refined for you to get anything out of it.
If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your CRM, check out our guide for tips.