Love Your Data This Valentine's Day
In opinion / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 01 February 2019
Looking after your data is vital and can often be crucial to the running and success of your business, especially in professional services industries. This Valentine’s Day we’re hopelessly devoted to data, so check out our top tips for loving your data below.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of data management, good storage solutions are critical to keeping data safe and secure. Deciding where to store your data is the tricky part with various options available to you, from internal storage on hard drives and USB sticks, to cloud-based storage, CRM systems and outsourced data centres.
Hard drives and USB sticks are the easy option but can be vulnerable to loss or damage, meaning your data could be put at significant risk if they are your only forms of storage. However, they can be a good quick-fix solution when it comes to moving files, creating temporary copies or keeping a back-up.
It’s important to only store data that you need and have permission to keep because data storage can sometimes be expensive, and you don’t want to spend money on storage solutions for data you don’t necessarily need. Data centre outsourcing can be a great option for large amounts of data as it’s often cheaper than cloud storage and has the added security benefit of being managed. Check out some advantages of data centre outsourcing here.
A cloud-based storage solution, such as Microsoft Office 365, can also be a good alternative due to its flexibility in being able to work from anywhere and its ability to simplify version control and collaboration with others. This is a real benefit to those who work from multiple locations but still need to work with colleagues as if they were working in the same office.
Data loss can be catastrophic to a business, so as well as having a safe place to store your data, you also need to ensure that it’s backed up securely. It’s a good idea to try and create two or three back-ups of your most important data, just in case of emergencies. These back-ups could be stored via one or two cloud storage solutions or on secure hard drives kept in one single place.
If you opt for storage on a hard drive, ensure it is kept in a single location and in a locked cabinet or drawer. You could also keep it away from the office, such as in your home to prevent loss if anything were to happen to your workplace. Staff error is one of the top reasons for security breaches in the workplace so it’s critical that your back-ups have limited access, granted only when needed and only to those with the right level of authority.
As with storage, backing up your data can be expensive and time consuming so make sure you only back-up what you absolutely need and ensure it’s updated regularly, in line with updates made to the main source of your data.
Using a hosted desktop system for backing up can be a great option because your data and applications are all backed up on another server. This is great for small businesses who perhaps do not have the resources for a backup server but still need to store large amounts of data. It’s important to remember that anything can happen, which means your data could be at significant risk if it’s only stored on a single internal server. By using hosted desktop as a back-up, you will have the added assurance that everything can be retrieved in a matter of moments, should your internal server go down.
Digital technology is moving at a fast pace and is continually evolving, which means your data could be at risk of becoming outdated and unreadable by new software in the future.
Best practice is to ensure you effectively document your data so it can be easily understood and regularly move your backed-up data to new storage media as it develops. For example, data would have once been stored on floppy disks which at the time was fine, but now computers are not built to support them so they cannot be read. This could eventually be the case with compact disks and traditional USBs. It’s therefore crucial to keep up with the times and ensure your data can be read by new and evolving formats.
Data can become outdated very quickly, especially personal data such as that which is used in recruitment agencies or law firms. It’s important to regularly update and remove any data that is no longer being used, or if the person who it belongs to does not want it to be used or stored any longer. This should have been made much easier with the introduction of GDPR, since people now have to opt in as opposed to opting out and should have the ability to modify their preferences.
If you’re using data which you’ve built up over time, it should be easier to cleanse since it will have been correct at one stage or another. However, data which is inherited or bought can often be inaccurate and so will take a lot more time and effort to cleanse accurately.
There are a number of CRM systems available to you which you may already be using for your data storing and cleansing but if you’re still doing it the old-fashioned way, Microsoft Excel Workbooks can be a great resource. As long as you inputted the data correctly to start with, it should also be a quick process. You should have single variables in each column – i.e. first name, last name, phone number, email etc to ensure that you can easily filter your data when you need to use it.
When it comes to the actual cleansing of your data in Excel, try to have separate worksheets to split your data between current data, cleansed data and data to be cleansed. This will make it much easier for you to regularly ensure your data is up to date.
The GDPR legislation outlines how data should be used, processed and controlled by any business who manages data. It’s crucial that any business involved in data management adheres to the legislation. You can find more information about it in this GDPR blog.
If you need more information or support in loving your data, get in touch with us today.