Best practices for data management for your business
Data management is one of the most important aspects of any business. By ensuring that data is properly collected, organized, and analyzed, businesses can make informed decisions that will help them reach their goals. Unfortunately, many companies do not have a formal data management process in place, which can lead to chaos and confusion. In this article, we will discuss some best practices for data management within your business. We’ll also take a look at how using a business intelligence (BI) tool can help you streamline your data processes and improve decision-making.
What is data management?
Data management is the practice of collecting, organizing, protecting, and storing an organization’s data so that it can be analyzed for business decisions. Businesses of all types and sizes are using data management in their day-to-day operations, whether they know it or not.
Data is the lifeblood of any business. It helps you understand your customers, track your sales, and make better decisions. However, managing data can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a formal data management process in place.
How to establish a data governance plan
One of the first things you need to do is put together a data governance plan. Data governance is the application of data management in business. A data governance plan is a document that should outline who is responsible for data management within your company, as well as how data will be collected, organized, and accessed. By having a clear plan in place, you can ensure that everyone in your company is on the same page when it comes to data management.
Once you have a governance plan in place, you can start thinking about how a BI tool can help you implement your data management strategies. In this article, we will talk about what sort of things you should include in your data governance plan, and how leveraging a BI tool can help you manage your data better than ever before.
Keep track of what data you are collecting and why
Understanding the data your business uses is an important first step to any data management process. Different departments throughout the organization will rely on different data sources in order to perform their job functions. It’s important to establish a document that outlines all the different data sources your company is using.
A data dictionary can be very helpful in this aspect. Data dictionaries outline the different types of data your business is using, where that data is located, how it is stored, and the structure or schema of it.
It’s also important to understand why the data you’re collecting is important. Some data such as a customer database from your CRM are absolutely essential for certain departments. Other sources may not quite be as relevant and should be deprecated if they are no longer in use.
Use a reliable storage solution for your data
Understanding how your data is stored is also a critical factor in data management. Oftentimes, data can be stored in several different systems, duplicated, or even sharded for security and privacy reasons.
Data can also be stored on the cloud via a cloud computing vendor such as a BI tool or cloud storage provider. This can be an excellent way to store data as the back-end infrastructure can be managed by the vendor. Even if catastrophic failures occur, these vendors have security measures in place to ensure that your data is not lost or corrupted.
BI is a great option for small- and medium-sized businesses that are just getting started with data management. Modern BI can also act as a durable data store, oftentimes referred to as a data warehouse. Once data is imported into the BI tool, it can be stored indefinitely using inexpensive cloud storage. This can provide huge benefits to your company, as you can have the peace of mind that your data is stored safely.
Regularly back up your data
As mentioned previously, data is oftentimes copied or replicated in order to better protect it. A data backup is a process in which a business regularly copies its business data from source systems and stores it in a simple storage service. The idea here is to protect the data to ensure that your business will always have a copy, even when failures occur.
Although they are not very common, a data failure can occur whenever servers or software systems go down. While only lasting a brief period of time, this can have severe consequences for your business, as you no longer have access to the data you need.
Regularly backing up your data with a BI tool is an excellent way to automate the data backup process. Modern BI hosted in the cloud allows you to import data as often as you need — even as often as every 15 minutes. That data can then be stored in the BI tool for future use and will remain there even if the data source systems fail.
Have a plan in place for dealing with data loss or corruption
Establishing a plan to deal with data loss and corruption goes hand-in-hand with the previous step of establishing a regular backup. In the inevitable event that data loss or corruption occurs, it’s important to establish a recovery strategy as part of your data management plan.
Data recovery is often delegated to IT teams within the organization. While working with IT, it’s important to establish clear expectations as to the procedures they will follow whenever data outages occur. Business and IT users should work together to create a plan that will allow the business to restore its data loss in a timely manner.
BI tools can help prevent these data loss scenarios from even occurring in the first place. Modern BI has advanced to include generally accepted security measures such as SOC 2 compliance. BI can also be hosted on the cloud via servers that have guaranteed uptimes of 99.99%. This can give your business the peace of mind it deserves as you establish a data management strategy.
Restrict access to sensitive data only to those who need it
Data accessibility is another critical factor to any data management project. As a business, you most likely have sensitive data that should only be viewed by select individuals. Yes, you want to give data access to as many employees as possible, but you also want to make sure it’s the appropriate level of access.
Best practice with data access is to restrict access to only datasets that a user has a consistent need for. With so many different departments and job roles, employees naturally will only need access to certain data sources within the organization.
Data can also be restricted using row-level security, which is a new feature that Modern BI tools provide. This allows your company to share datasets with the entire organization, and restrict access based on certain attributes of the employee. An example of this is a sales rep who is responsible for sales on the west coast. By implementing row-level security, you can ensure that the rep only sees data that is pertinent to them, while at the same time excluding sensitive data that they shouldn’t have access to.
Train employees on proper data handling procedures
The final step to proper data management is consistent training of employees throughout the organization. These best practices should be shared with employees of all levels—from individual contributors to top executives. Data is handled by all of your employees every single day, which is why it’s so important to train them accordingly.
While developing data management, be sure to include stakeholders across the organization. These individuals should be champions who can then train employees in their respective departments about data management best practices. It also can be helpful to create a data steering committee that is responsible for the regular training of employees.
Another great feature of modern BI is how intuitive it is to use for business users. This can be a huge advantage when teaching proper data handling procedures. BI tools can often automate routine data handling tasks, including data import, cleaning, updating, and so on. As your organization begins the widespread adoption of a BI tool, you will find it will become easier and easier to train employees on data management processes.
By taking the time to properly manage your data, you are setting your business up for success. Implementing a data management plan can seem daunting, but with the help of the right BI tool, it can be so much easier. By applying the best practices we outlined in this article, you can ensure that your company has a sound data management strategy. Proper data management can provide great benefits to your company for years to come, and will help you make better use of your data.