Data can be the most vital asset to any organization. It can be used to measure business activity both internally and externally, track seasonal or historical trends and account for performance obstacles within the economy. Often, data itself may not be informative enough to take action, but it is the foundation for all reporting, which is a critical function of all companies.
If you can always ensure that the data is relevant, accurate, immediate, consistent, meaningful, actionable and that nothing is missing from the data set, it will help not only to maintain existing business, but to continue to grow and expand. Having an internal process for data management is one of the most important things that an agency or company can do to ensure that all decisions being made are data-driven.
So, what exactly is “data management?”
According to the DAMA official definition, data management is “the development and execution of architectures, policies, practices and procedures that properly manage the full data life cycle needs of an enterprise.” Essentially, data management is the function of protecting, controlling, delivering and enhancing the quality of data and actionable information within an organization.
Some of the clear benefits of data management include:
- Minimized errors
- If data management is done consistently and effectively, it helps to reduce errors within data that could lead to misinformation. The more manual formatting or manipulation that occurs within a set of data (i.e. copy, paste, delete column, edit names, etc.), the higher the chance that data errors exist. Having a uniform data management strategy is essential to minimizing errors and controlling the overall quality of the data. These improvements lead to better and faster access to data.
- Efficiency Improvements
- As less time is spent on manual formatting of data, more time can be spent on the analysis and insights portion of the process. Having uniformity on data and reporting practices across an entire organization is key in reducing duplicative efforts, streamlining overall data and reporting, and only focusing on the most impactful and necessary information.
How do I get started?
Building a sound data management process does not happen overnight. However, there are a few immediate steps that can be taken to jump-start the progression.
- Create a data map – Knowing what data you currently have at your disposal, what you use regularly, and what you use the data for is helpful to understand the scope and identify any areas of opportunity for enhanced reporting. It also will help to identify any data elements that are no longer meaningful to reduce clutter.
- Utilize custom reporting when and where available – Most platforms allow for the creation of custom reporting. Some standard reports do not include all the data elements that are needed for continuous review or one-off instances. Because of this, it is a common practice to try to manually combine various data sources, which ultimately could lead to data errors. The custom report would allow for consistent and seamless data, thus increasing overall data integrity.
- Consider BI solutions like Tableau – Tableau is a relational database that allows for the integration and aggregation of more than 50 data sources. Powerful business intelligence (BI) software like Tableau facilitates data visualization and storytelling elements and reduces the manual formatting component of the data management process. Since Tableau, and other software like it, works to connect various separate data sources together to view in one cohesive format, it works together to create a true picture of meaningful and actionable information.
What steps have you taken to create a data management process?