Best practices for effective data management
With data playing such an important role in most businesses, it’s essential to manage it effectively.
Data is more important than ever for businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately, too many businesses are not handling their data properly or using it as well as they could. According to Rivery, “just 3% of data in enterprise businesses meets quality standards, and 60-73% of data is never used for any strategic purpose” and “only 20% of organizations investing in information governance will succeed through 2022”.
If you want your business to grow and thrive, you must start with effective management of your data. Implementing some basic data management strategies will not only help your business in the short term but for years to come. Below you can find a few of the best practices to implement within your business for effective data management.
Know Your Limits
The first thing to assess is your own knowledge and abilities. The more data your business uses, the more knowledge you need about how to manage it. If this isn’t where your expertise lies, you may be better off hiring some outside help to assist you.
For example, let’s say your business tracks inventory through an Excel spreadsheet. After a while, this spreadsheet may become so large that it’s hard to gather useful intelligence from it, especially if you’re a beginner. In that case, you may want to work with a business that offers Microsoft Excel consulting. If your business has large Excel spreadsheets, and you feel like you could be getting more from them, hiring a service to assist you could be a worthy investment.
Take the time to analyze your strengths along with those of anyone else on your team. If there isn’t anyone with extensive data management experience, it may be time to either hire someone who has or for someone to start learning more about it. Having a person on your team who can improve your information management systems effectively will make a lot of things easier in the future.
Decide on Your Goals Early
The next important practice for data management is to decide on your goals early. You should consider all the things that you are trying to achieve by collecting and analyzing this data. Are you trying to improve your marketing efforts? Employee performance? Customer satisfaction? You can have as many goals as you’d like, but work to make them specific and detailed. Deciding on your goals will help you focus on all your other data management efforts in a concerted direction.
Look for the Right Tools
The best way to improve your data management practices is by using the right software. With the right data management tools, you can improve efficiency, keep your data secure, and gather deeper insights. There are many data management tools on the market, so you should take the time to explore several options. If you can, make use of free trials to get a better sense of which tools will work best for you.
When exploring your options, it’s essential that you get something secure. The last thing you want is an unwanted intrusion into your data system or for something to happen to your essential data. This is especially true if you are storing confidential information about your customers or employees, as a leak could be disastrous for your company. Data security best practices are a topic of their own, so spend some time learning as much as you can about them.
Focus on Data Quality
Too many businesses have a lot of low-quality data. The result is an inefficient system in which it takes too long to find what you’re looking for or the resulting analysis is unreliable. Therefore, you should make it a priority to focus on the quality of your data. This means only entering data that you need, making sure that the data is complete, and regularly removing obsolete data.
To do this, you need to create some standards for what you consider high-quality data. You then need to introduce these standards to your team and ensure everyone follows them when inputting data. It may also help to hire a data quality team who will routinely inspect your information or implement some data quality software. Whatever you decide to do, putting more effort into data quality will likely take up more time but it will produce better results in the long run.
Make Data Easily Available to the Right People
For your business to operate efficiently, the right people need to be able to access the data they need at the right time. For example, if your traveling salesperson cannot access a customer database on the go, they’ll have a hard time performing their best. Implement a system where your team can access data remotely in a secure fashion. This typically involves having everyone create usernames and setting permissions for each user. In addition, remember to restrict access to only those who need it, as giving access to too many people is a security risk.
Have a Recovery System in Place
No matter how careful you are with your data, it is still possible for something bad to happen. Maybe the hard drive experiences breakdown or a virus starts to delete things on the cloud. Whatever the cause, missing your information for even a short time is problematic. According to Datto, even an hour of downtime can cost up to $8,000 for a small company, or $74,000 for a medium company and a total of $700,000 for a large enterprise. This is why it’s important to have a recovery system in place.
A good recovery system regularly backs up data in a safe location. It also lays out how to restore data using this backup and how to get your business running again in as little time as possible. Create a recovery system now, including all the steps you’ll follow to restore your data, and hope that you’ll never need to use it.
Regularly Review Data Management Practices and Equipment
Finally, the last best practice is to regularly review your current practices and look for improvements. As time changes, so will your data needs and the environment around them. For example, there may come a time when the cloud-based storage provider you’re using is no longer reliable or secure. By regularly reviewing your current practices, you can spot inefficiencies quickly and make improvements before they negatively impact your business for too long.
With data playing such an important role in most businesses, it’s essential to manage it effectively. The above best practices are a good place to start and should help you set up an environment where your data is efficient, fast, and secure. From there you can implement more best practices based on your specific needs and continue to look for strategies that will help you grow into the future.