Insights

3 Steps to Change Your Data Destiny

For many companies, data quality issues are chronic. The causes are ingrained within the culture of the workforce. Until there is a change in the way people work, a business’ larger data quality problems won’t go away. Data quality software does a very good job of cleaning up the debris left by poor management, but if that poor management is not dealt with, the problem will continue to escalate.

Employees have historically been left out of technological decisions and they’ve been trained to let the IT department deal with data storage.  By implication, they tend to disconnect from the way data is managed and curated.  As we become more dependent on good quality information, we all need to invest in a culture change.

Changing Ways of Working

Data is increasingly becoming a central focus for entire companies, since a company’s database is the hub that all activities plug into.  If different departments are working with separate systems and spreadsheets, the first step is to integrate all departments.  Get them singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak.

A CRM is a good example of integrated data that serves everyone. A CRM is effectively a database that acts as the information silo for the sales department. Since it tracks behaviour and potential leads, it can also output useful data for marketing teams. And while support personnel can dip into it for a customer’s contact history or social media support requests, analysts can track their buying habits and use that data to shape decisions.

If the CRM interlinks the entire workforce, it’s a good place to start changing the way all employees think about data. As we already mentioned, participation is the first hurdle. Once everyone is using the CRM, they will likely be more interested in maintaining it.

Practical Data Quality Improvements

Data quality software helps to de-duplicate, cleanse and validate records in a database. Automated solutions are the best way to manage large datasets. While some human input is necessary to weed out close matches, the software does most of the heavy lifting.  This kind of cleansing needs to be repeated in order to keep the database in good shape and to prevent decay from rendering it unusable. In addition, there are various ways that employees can improve data quality by interacting with the database in the correct way.

For example, they can:

  • Make changes to the way data is entered by validating form fields prior to submission: to prevent saving ‘dirty’ data
  • Enter only valid data so that colleagues do not have to deal with the after-effects of a rushed entry
  • Avoid saving incomplete records
  • Stop using alternative methods of data collection, such as spreadsheets or notepads
  • Defer departmental decisions on data use to the Chief Data Officer, if the company has one in place

Propelling Change

While it can be difficult to get buy-in from staff, the best tool at your disposal is the data itself. The positive effects of high quality data should not be underestimated. Once people see how much easier it is to work with quality data, they will begin to appreciate that the effort is worthwhile.

This in turn, leads to less wasted effort and a more efficient way to approach sales, marketing and support. Not only does this benefit your business and its bottom line, it also helps your employees to work more effectively together.

Article written by Martin Doyle
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