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Tips for finding and removing bad data from your business

Is bad data holding your business back? Many businesses know that bad data is an issue yet have no solid plan in place for getting rid of it.

When we talk about bad data, we mean data that is outdated, duplicated, poorly compiled or simply incorrect.

The use of bad data can significantly affect the performance of your business – it can give you misleading insights, cause migration projects to fail, and result in even more spending. So, what’s the solution?

Identify bad data

Identifying bad data is the first step in being able to remove it, and it can come from a number of places:

  1. Human error

It’s difficult to catch when someone enters a bit of data incorrectly – this might be a name, phone number or cost figure. Poor data quality can also happen when information is entered into the wrong field, spelled incorrectly, or formatted inconsistently.

  1. Inadequate systems

Your business databases may not have the right fields to collect the information you need. Employees then often work around the system, using new fields or creating their own external spreadsheets that make the information difficult to report on.

  1. Poorly maintained processes

Let’s say you build a database that contains key information for all your clients. If you don’t continually update these records, within a short amount of time this information will be incomplete and possibly even obsolete.

Removing bad data

Some companies might rely on fixing it when they find it. But this doesn’t solve the problem at all. We recommend cleaning data at least quarterly – and by this, we mean checking valid data against invalid data. Since this process is quite time consuming, it’s always worth asking for help from your IT provider, or a managed service provider like us.

‘Data cleaning’ can either be done with data cleansing tools or as batch processing through scripting.

A perfect time to fix bad data, is before you migrate to a new system – it’s a fresh start where you can be assured only the data you want to keep has made its way into the new system. A vast majority of problems can be avoided by creating a quality framework and pre-processing the data before it is imported.

Through our data analysis service, we can help you find the key insights you’re looking for and fix your bad data by:

  • Removing duplicate and outdated records
  • Fixing grammar/spelling errors
  • Joining data records from multiple systems
  • Creating approval processes
  • Setting up validation processes to enforce formatting of phone numbers, emails etc

Once this process has finished, we’ll then use real-time safeguards to prevent new errors from entering the system and appoint a dedicated engineer to be responsible for long-term monitoring, measurement and management of data quality.

Benefits of cleaning bad data

In the end, data quality is the foundation of any business strategy. Analytics and reporting is only possible with good quality data – you should think of data as the glue that holds processes together!

Better decision making

Better decision making is one of the biggest benefits of removing bad data. Data that is cleaned and that is of high quality can support better analytics and business intelligence – this can ensure better decision making.

Minimise compliance risks

With the introduction of GDPR, data security and permissions are more important than ever before. Regular cleaning of databases such as CRM, helps you to keep tabs on customer contact permissions and ensure people who have opted out of communications are not contacted.

Maintaining a clean and organised data set will also help avoid the hefty fines associated with breaching GDPR and other legislation.

Once your data is clean, we can also develop applications and reports to visualise your data or make use of the data in other functional ways. Alternatively, we can also assist you with the selection of available business intelligence tools for you to further analyse your data in a self-service manner.

Don’t let bad data ruin your business. Get in touch to see how we can help develop a solution for your business.