10 Top Tips to Improve Data Quality

All businesses have data quality, the goal is to have good data quality.   This article lists the top tips we believe can help you improve data quality.
  1. Data Entry Standards
    Having an agreed set of guidelines, for adding data into a CRM system and/or other business systems, is a key starting place for any company wanting to improve data quality.  Some of the tips below are ways that might be set out in a typical set of Data Entry Standard guidelines.  However, the specifics of your actual data requirements to complete a new record in the system will be business specific and should be established. If you want to read more on Data Entry Standards, please see this blog article.
  2. improve data qualityOptions Sets
    For those fields where there is a defined list of values, don’t leave the user to enter the value in a text box!  Do you know how many variants of “United Kingdom” you could end up with?  
  3. Determine Key Data
    For personnel in a customer facing role, time is critical.  Determining what data is needed as a minimum to proceed with a relevant transaction can reduce the need for users to have to add extraneous data.  To ensure that this essential data is gathered (and entered) the relevant fields should be made mandatory.
  4. Address Management Tools
    The UK has high quality address management tools available for businesses to deploy.  By incorporating these into the business system, consistency in address format and validity is established.
  5. Duplicate Detection & Cure
    If you are aware of duplicates in your system, then take action.  Duplicates are like cockroaches, for every duplicate you’ve spotted there are probably a dozen more lurking! There are tools to assist in identifying potential duplicates and some provide a means to merge records thus eliminating the duplication. QWare (a division of the QGate Group of companies) offers Paribus 365 to identify and cure duplicates.
  6. Duplicate Prevention
    In an ideal world you want to prevent duplicates from getting into the system.  Some systems will provide assistance here, for example with Dynamics 365 there are Duplicate Detection Rules which can be setup and go some way to avoiding the obvious duplicates. However, this is only for exact matches and the difficulty is that users may enter companies and contacts in slightly differently to existing records.  Using acronyms on some occasions, in full on others and differing names.  For example, Bill or William; University College London or UCL; Abbott Limited or Abbott Ltd.  Paribus 365 can prevent duplicates from entering your system with its fuzzy matching capabilities. 
  7. Integration Tools
    Most, if not all, businesses are running with multiple systems and often decisions about which system provides all the bells and whistles for one department might be made in isolation to the rest of the business.  Potentially a new customer brought on board through successful Marketing may exist as a record within that system but might have to be re-keyed into the Accounts system when an invoice must be raised.  When this happens, it may cause errors.  To avoid miss-keying of data there are integration tools available to enable the record creation.  The record insert can be automated which will speed up processes and also provide continuity in information across the business.
  8. Reviewing Data Quality
    Whilst you may have put in place good practice to maintain a high standard in the quality of data, it is still important to carry out periodic reviews.  Capturing and correcting problems early will make for a faster resolution.  You can ensure that any rules/guidelines deployed are still valid and being used.  For example, it may be worth verifying that the mandatory fields for record entry are still valid.  As the business evolves, some of those fields may now be redundant and/or users are having to carry out workarounds to get past a mandatory field.  If reviews are scheduled they are more likely to occur so setting out a schedule upfront is also advisable.
  9. Training and Reminding
    Whether your data entry standards are formalised or not, everyone should be made aware of the procedures that the company wishes to follow.  The adoption of procedures will be enhanced if personnel can appreciate the benefits to themselves and the business, so highlight the benefits.  Include the education on these procedures in the training plan of new personnel and provide feedback, to all concerned, following your scheduled data quality review.
  10. Data Steward Role
    The list above provides guidance on improving and maintaining high-quality data.  But who is going to carry out the work? Having a nominated Data Steward demonstrates an investment in good quality data and will raise the profile of this subject within the business.

Further Information

Further information on the Paribus 365 deduplication and data cleansing solution can be found here.

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