Mar 21, 2016
With Spring now here you might have already started doing a bit of spring cleaning around the home and office. Giving everywhere a good sweep, tidying up and recycling the odd thing is a good, productive and therapeutic way to start the season.
We always advice our clients to go one step further and turn their attention to their data too. Tidying up your data is never a bad thing, and here are some of the things we advise:
In how many places are you updating the same information? Customers that change their address are the prime example. If you’ve got multiple locations, spreadsheet, systems and databases that need updating then put some serious thought into combining those lists.
Updating information isn’t just about wasted time in getting all of the places updated – although that is important – it’s also about ensuring you have the latest information available in a central location. Sending goods to the wrong address because someone forgot to update one of the four spreadsheets that contain the client address smacks of nothing but bad customer service.
One of the red flags that we look for when we undertake workflow analysis is the squirreling of data. Squirreling is the term we use for individuals within the business that keep copies of data locally. They might have their own spreadsheets or databases setup that are only accessed by them and are not connected in any way to other data sources.
We often dig down into the reasons for squirreling. More of than not it’s associated with individual staff members having a lack of faith in a system or forcing them to work with a system that does not match their requirements.
Either way, now is an ideal opportunity to identify squirreling and put in place something to stop it.
While you’re taking the opportunity to tidy up all of your data why not see if you can ditch spreadsheets entirely? For all but the smallest of business and lightest of users a spreadsheet is both hard to integrate and collaborate on, making it difficult to keep up to date or to share.
There are ample CRMs (even free CRM systems) that might be better suited. If not, custom built data management solutions might meet your needs.
If you don’t do this as part of your standard data management procedures then you should review what sensitive data you hold, ensuring it’s secure. Take the opportunity to safely delete any you no longer need.
This approach reduces risk of data loss and customer inconvenience as well as making sure you as a business know what you are doing in terms of security.
While we’re on the topic of security, make sure that if you are required to do so your registration with the ICO is up to date. Most businesses will be required to make an application and adhere to procedures to make sure that data is securely managed.
Last but not least, how are your backups? Even if you take regular backups are you sure that you have a good enough historical version and that you can restore from a backup? We’ve encountered more that one business where faced with data loss it turned out their backups were not adequate. Don’t let that be you.
Hopefully these points will give you a good feeling and confidence in the way your business is managing its data. If we can help with any aspect then please do contact us for a chat.