Data Quality: How to Ensure It

Monitor data through your company.

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There’s no denying that data is one of the average business’ most important assets when it is good data. Unfortunately,  so many companies collect poor data or do not handle the data they have in the correct manner, rendering it, if not useless, much less profitable than it could be.

Ultimately, small or average companies don’t collect data at all or don’t take advantage of it, given it’s such a ‘new’ thing. Truth is you are working and dealing with data from the begining of your business when you looked at numbers to find out if you had a feasible market, or how much money you had to invest, etc..

When the business is already working, you look at data to see your profit, your expenses, etc… so data is really at the center of every business.

If you want to ensure that the data you’ve gone through so much time and expense to gather is quality data that will actually benefit your business, here are a few things you need to do:

Make it a Priority

If you don’t think data is important, then you simply will not treat it as seriously as it should be and that means that any data you do collect is likely to be meaningless because you won’t have put much thought into its collection or how it can be utilized by you. So, acknowledging just how important data is in the modern world is the first step you need to take to ensure quality.

You know that Quickbooks that holds your bookkeeping is a great source of data.

Look at Patterns

The thing about collecting data is that it is so easy to make mistakes in the process, even when all involved are being very careful. Not only that, but no data set is ever going to be 100 percent accurate anyway and that’s why looking at long-term patterns and trends will give you a more accurate picture of what’s going on. A good example of this is oil and gas production software that stores historic data so that the pumpers who are working at any given moment (or the people they are sending information back to) can collate it with past results to ensure that it is likely to be accurate. There are, of course, many more examples out there, and no matter what field you work in, you will find that looking at data as a whole rather than a slice is the way to ensure quality.

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Draw Up a Data Dictionary

Creating a data dictionary is a good idea if you want to be able to easily categorize data in the right place and know what any given piece of information relates to. Not every member if your staff will know what ‘angular momentum’ refers to, for example, so by having a simple dictionary that lays it all out as simply as possible, you make your data more accessible to anyone who may ever have a need to use it.

Collect Data at Source

It’s best to collect data from the immediate source whenever possible. Why? Because if you filter your data through all kinds of systems and individuals before it reaches its end-goal, there is a very good chance that it will be altered or reinterpreted in some way that degrades its quality. If you can automate, do so, otherwise, try to keep the layers between source and data to an absolute minimum. This is your best chance of getting raw and real data.

Dealing with data is never simple, not least because there is so much of it, and it’s hard to sort through it all, but if you put the above into practice and you (of course) take measures to secure your data, you should be able to feel reasonably confident that you’re getting quality information that is actionable.

Looking at your website data

A great way to start with data on small companies and is Google Analytics. This is a free tool by Google that is used to monitor traffic to your website. You can check amount of visitors, the pages they visit the most and exactly what they are looking for on your virtual showcase. Do take advantage of Google Analytics.

Looking at your social media data

There are plenty of social media profiles out there to get your message out: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc… and they all have their own reports of Page Visits, incquiries to your business page, etc.. and managing all data can be a daunting task. One tool that can help you organize and get reports of all them in one place is Hootsuite. The professional plan gives you reports, and organizes your timelines in a single dashboard that helps you keep track of all.

Max Francisco has been doing digital projects in Brazil and the US for the last 15 years.