It’s okay to admit it. You can probably say one of the following (I won’t tell on you
Secret Data Confessions
- We can’t trust our CRM.
- We have a “secret” trusted dataset that only our department knows about.
- Our CRM data isn’t consistent.
- Our data is too scattered over many tools.
- We do most data work in Excel.
- I hate asking around for data.
- I don’t know how to get the data I need.
Don’t worry. It’s normal to not like your company’s data. In fact, I’ve seen it a lot at the different organizations that I’ve worked with.
But why? Why does my company’s data suck?
I’ll try to go over the top reasons for why your company’s data might suck. For each, I’ll write your company a prescription on how to fix it.
How to Improve Your Company Data
(Reasons Why Your Company’s Data Sucks)
Reason #1 — Too Many People Touch The Data
Too many people are writing your data.
- Limit it.
- Track it.
- Hold them accountable.
From my experience, this is the big one. Many companies think that everyone needs access to the data, and that means being able to read/write data.
No. Absolutely not.
Why? → Consistency.
Example #1 — Someone in Latin America might write the data field for an event as “DD-MM-YYYY”, but an American might do “MM-DD-YYYY”. This screws up a lot.
Example #2 — Certain staff might not be trained on how to input all of the data fields for an event or entry, and they might incorrectly input things.
In short, more people, more data problems. To fix these problems of inconsistency and data accountability, there are two main solutions.
Solution #1: Limit Data Writing Access
- Track and label who can write your data.
- Train them.
- Hold them accountable for accurate data input.
Solution #2: Automate Your Data Input
- Use your CRM’s automation to move data where it needs to go.
- Connect your tools to your CRM automatically with Zapier, Automate, or IFTTT.
All of this will help you tame your data monster and reduce the data errors that are causing you to not trust your data.
Reason #2 — You Haven’t Cleaned It Yet
Take the time to clean your data. It’s worth it.
This one is easy to explain, but hard to do. If your data sucks, it’s because it keeps sucking. Your company needs to take the time to do a deep clean on its data so that it is consistent and trustworthy going forward.
Solution: Hire a Data Cleaning Freelancer
If you don’t have the time to do this, hire a freelancer or data integrity company to help you get your data in the format it needs to be. It’s worth the time and investment to clean your data for the future.
Reason #3 — The Data Isn’t Centralized
Wait… Where is that data located again?
It’s okay to use a lot of tools to solve your company’s problems, but it isn’t okay to keep that data siloed in those tools.
Why? → Grabbing the data takes time, and it needs to be combined with other data.
- We have event attendance in EventBrite.
- Customer data in Salesforce.
- Sales data in Excel.
- Website data in Google Analytics.
- The list goes on and on…
Solution #1: Get a Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse Tool
- Invest in a tool like DOMO or Tableau,
- aggregate your data sources, and
- start creating amazing and automated analyses that answer your toughest business questions.
Solution #2: Centralize Your Data in Your CRM
Your data points need to all link back to a central place. If it’s not your BI tool (see above), put it in your CRM.
Automate the data collection and input for each of your clients or accounts using data connection tools like Zapier, Automate, or IFTTT. Then once it is there, you can start to truly understand how your clients and accounts use your products and services.
Reason #4 — You Haven’t Used It Right
In short, you’ve probably been using your data wrong. This is one where the classic Biggie Smalls saying applies…
“If you don’t know, now you know”
No shame here, but many people just don’t know how to use data. Additionally, they don’t know the big questions that their data can solve for their organizations.
Solution: Hire a Data Scientist Freelancer or Team
Data analysis can give you incredible insights, but you won’t know what you can achieve until you have a true data scientist take a look. Your data scientist will need to look at:
- What data you have.
- What questions you want to answer.
- What analyses & data you need to answer these questions.
Trust me. Data science is worth the investment, especially in dollars and time. I helped an organization save thousands of dollars by using their data to identify and target at-risk accounts for better account retention.
In short, you won’t know what you can solve with your data until you have an expert peek under the hood.
TL;DR — Your company’s data probably sucks because too many people input it, you haven’t cleaned it, and you haven’t used it right. Hire data professionals to help you clean it up.