Did You Know? Data Cleaning is a waste of time and money – if you fail to put in a recurring maintenance process!
As Sales and Marketing people, we all know that, given a choice, we would all elect to always work with clean sales and marketing data.
Having clean, consistent, and up-to-date data saves a lot of time and avoids expensive mistakes, such as two different salespeople approaching the same prospect or a marketing campaign that targets customers for a product that they already have…
“Don’t these guys ever speak to each other!” is the common reaction. Not a ‘good look’, is it!
Clean Data Wins
So that’s unanimous – we all vote for clean data!
And, we can have it – for a manageable investment… And it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Over the course of a year, your clean data will pay you back many times over. So, how could that be a waste of time and money?
Why should I implement a recurring process? Here’s the thing to be aware of – studies show that data decays at the alarming rate of 70% per annum!
What that means is that if you fail to put in a recurring process that will ensure your data is continually maintained, within a year you are almost back where you started…
Data can contain many surprises, much of which is hidden by the application that is hosting the very same data.
It’s not an intentional thing – it’s just the nature of applications in that they are generally single record centric and do not easily provide holistic views of your data.
Get your data out of your application and then you begin to see the full story of irregularity and duplications emerge.
Three easy steps to implement a recurring process
- Set up a Data Policy
To get your data fully under control you first need to form a data policy that defines how you want your data to look and how you need it to be segmented.
This policy needs to be externally mapped so that it can be applied by an automated process to all your data – both old and new. Bear in mind that “old” data doesn’t stand still. Users are continually applying updates and can easily introduce irregular or non-compliant values.
“Oh, but I have pick lists and it’s not possible to apply invalid values!”, I hear you cry. The chosen values may be “valid”, but are they sensible or consistent values? Chances are they may not be as value selection is entirely at each user’s discretion.
- Wash and fix your data
This step is the heavy-lifting stage. Having defined a Data Policy, you need to wash your data against your data policy and regularize any non-compliant values. This, in turn, will help to identify suspected duplicates and cases that could not be automatically fixed. These exceptions need to be manually investigated and resolved. On doing this, it is conceivably possible that some exceptions are simply false negatives. Having invested time to check these out, the knowledge of these “false negatives” needs to be retained so that it can be re-applied each time the data is washed. In this way, they won’t keep reappearing and demanding unnecessary attention.
- The game-changer: Repeat Step 2 – regularly!
Your “data sands” should always be shifting. In addition to the data decay rate of 70% per annum, if you are doing a good job selling and marketing, you should be polluting your data all the time. Every day, new contacts subscribe to your database, existing ones change jobs or companies, salespeople add new contacts or update existing ones with new details. The rate of change can be surprisingly high, and all of this needs regular review in order to ensure that your data continually stays fit for purpose.
As a parting thought, consider if this is a task you want to be undertaking yourself.
You know your own data the best and wrangling it yourself can have some advantages, but do you really have the time? Do you have access to a multiplicity of databases against which you can wash it? Are you able to create a scalable and automated process that can wash your data overnight?
Consider that a better use of your time might be to pass your knowledge into the hands of local experts who can then construct and automate a process that works perfectly for you – every time and all the time.
If you need help contact MDF the Marketing Data Cleansing Specialists