Access to data is playing an increasingly vital role in organizational operations. This is happening in tandem with a growing ability to collect and analyze data, which is true across industries.
But it is one thing to amass data, and quite another to properly manage and deploy it for your organization’s success. The skills required for the former differ considerably from what is needed for the latter. As such, companies have to make separate but related provisions concerning hiring and execution in these spheres.
There are general steps that can be taken to effectively manage their data. These steps, called data management best practices, will help them protect, organize, and deploy their data to achieve the best possible results.
Some of these steps are discussed below.
Many companies collect and store data without properly sorting and labeling them. Kept in this state, they may get disorganized fairly quickly, and become difficult to use. Eventually, this mismanagement may cost them resources that they should not have expended in the first place.
If data is going to have a maximal impact on a company’s output, it has to be organized. Several things can be done to make data more organized.
For starters, data folders should be named. Each folder should be labeled following a convention that can be recognized quickly by authorized persons who may want to access them later.
An example: if you are labeling using dates, ensure that they come in the form DD-MM-YYYY, where DD is the day, MM is month, and YYYY refers to the year of creation or storage. This pattern of documentation takes cognizance of a possible need to access the data in the long term. The same may be done for smaller time units if access will be needed in the short term.
Metadata—which describes the kind of data held in a folder –should also be used. It should tell the author, nature, structure, time of creation, and purpose of the data. Metadata makes data more searchable (using keywords in the description), and thus enables easier access to it.
Storage and Access
It’s a good idea to store data in multiple locations: on your computer, detached hard drives, and on the cloud. One or a few of these locations are compromised or damaged; the data can be accessed via other channels.
Organizations need to get authorization right. Only people who have to use data should be granted access to it. They can limit access with a password system, and enable login for specific persons or positions.
Open formats are an option that companies may use, which grants access to digital data to a broad user base. These formats are used of files that aren’t copyrighted and may be applied to imaging, audio, video, and other content types.
Storage and content formats evolve, so it’s important to keep track of these changes as they happen.
You may keep your data safe by implementing password protection for it. If the data is especially sensitive, you could even introduce multi-factor authentication. Ensure that it’s encrypted before storage.
Even with your best efforts, you could still lose some of your data. Create data backups, so that your data remains accessible even when a copy is lost. For example, if data on your hard storage devices are lost to some kind of disaster, you may recall them from cloud storage.
Software updates should be installed as soon as they are available. They may provide protection that previous versions do not. Cybercriminals are always on the prowl, seeking loopholes within programs to exploit. If you do not update software with which you interact with data, you put your organization at risk of data theft.
This point applies to anti-virus software. Threats are constantly evolving to match current technologies. Updates to anti-virus software help you stay ahead of them.
Preparing a Data Management Plan (DMP)
A data management plan is a document that describes how a data user will manage their data before, during, and after using it. Ideally, the plan covers details of data description (metadata), management, analysis, and storage, and sharing.
In other words, the plan should contain information about implementing some of the things earlier discussed here. If you are drawing up a data management plan, make sure it answers questions around documentation, file naming conventions, file formats, sharing, privacy concerns, reuse, and archiving.
Organizations will have to consult widely before creating a DMP. Input from departments that use data may be sought, and valuable contributions integrated into the plan.
Benefits of having a DMP include meeting standard data management criteria, making it easier to access stored data, avoiding data duplication, and freeing up time to focus on other activities.
Preparing Your Team to Work with Data
In the end, your data management plan will only be as effective as your team is. This means your team has to be prepared to properly handle the data your organization collects. Your IT department may have little or no qualms about this. But what about the others, who may have to work with various data levels and types?
Often, employees need to be oriented towards greater efficiency in their use of dense data piles. It is not enough to hire people with formal degrees and certificates in the relevant areas. Sometimes, you will also have to take them through the unique ways that your company leverages data and deploys insights from it.
In-house training may offer a way to bridge the knowledge gap for teams. This training will be more valuable if they track the most recent developments in data management. With this, team members will retain a competitive edge that benefits them and the organization they work for.
Layer3: A Partner You Can Rely On
You will need a strong data platform to properly manage your data.
Layer3 offers you this, plus much more. Our data management platform enables you to access data from disparate sources on a single dashboard. With it, you can quickly match and identify data, improve data so that it’s more reliable and actionable, and resolve discrepancies where they exist.
If you would like to learn more about our data management service, you can get in touch with us here.
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