This article was originally published by the National Parking Association in the September 2022 edition of Parking Magazine as “Data Hygiene: A Critical Tool in Effective Decision-Making“. They also created the image associated with this post.
The continual process of proper data hygiene is critical to an organization’s infrastructure and ability to support its various departments in their decision-making.
Discipline and rigor around ensuring the completeness and correctness of data used to make business decisions results in sharper insights, lower operational costs, and higher margins.
If data hygiene is poor, there’s a significant risk that your business will invest time, effort, and capital in initiatives that ultimately don’t support growth.
Ensure Clean Data
Data is considered “hygienic” (or “clean”) if it has intrinsic worth due to being largely error-free and without inconsistencies, gaps, or contradictions. Clean data is also searchable and can be traced back to its original source.
There’s an inherent “slipperiness” or pliability to massive data sets due to the large amounts of inputs handled.
In the process of molding this data into something meaningful and useful, inaccuracies or inconsistencies can render the insights derived useless or, worse, misleading.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Prioritize the Collection Process
To extract the maximum amount of intrinsic worth from their data, businesses that prioritize data hygiene have collective processes for assessing and maintaining quality:
→ Data auditing is the practice of investigating the current state of cleanliness and classifying data into tiers of usefulness and business impact.
→ Data cleansing occurs when the organization digs into the data to flag duplications, omissions, and misleading indicators.
→ By setting a baseline of cleanliness along with quantifiable metrics for the quality required for decision-making, businesses can identify opportunities for improvement and respond to anomalies in real time.
→ Data monitoring tools will automate quality assessment and instate stress tests and fail-safes in the collection process. Investing in this software saves time and makes data governance an organizational priority.
Data-based decisions are only as precise as the data that informs them.
To successfully predict, project, and plan, ensure your organization’s data hygiene protocol is up to par.