Reducing Data Cleansing Time to Get Actionable Insights Faster

Guest blog post by TheKiniGroup, originally posted here.

If you categorized how you spend your time at work every day, on which tasks do you spend the bulk of your time? Most business analysts spend 50 to 80 percent their time preparing their data for analysis, which includes pulling, cleansing, manipulating and formatting their data. This leaves them with only 20 to 50 percent of their time to focus on actual analysis and uncover actionable insights. That’s quite the dedication of hours.

Wouldn’t you like to cut down on that time a bit? Effective data preparation isn’t much different from getting into good physical shape. All you have to do is tone up your data strategy to build your analysis muscle. We’ve spent years helping our clients chisel away at the time-consuming process of manual data cleansing to free up more of their hours for focused data analysis, and we’ve learned some interesting lessons along the way.

Check out our tips below to get your analysis in good shape by reducing time spent in data preparation and opening up more time for your search for actionable insights and profit improvement.

1. Start With a Plan.

Much like with fitness goals, overnight results rarely happen in big data process transformations. You can’t immediately shift focus from data cleansing and preparation to data analysis with just enthusiasm. You need a plan.

Start your robust strategy by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What shape is my data in now?
  2. What shape does it need to be in for maximum analysis time and minimal data cleansing each reporting period?
  3. How can I maintain these clean data standards?
  4. What are checkpoints in between that can serve as benchmarks for my progress?

Outline a path from your current situation to your goal situation, and use this as a reference to keep yourself from veering off course or giving up halfway through the initiative.

2. Focus on Form

The trick to toned muscles isn’t necessarily in heavier weights; it’s often in better form. Similarly, ensuring your data starts in the best format for analysis dramatically reduces time dedicated to data cleansing and transitioning. Unfortunately, even the most tenacious analysts can’t control the data handed to them. If you want to receive the correctly formatted data each and every time, you need to get all contributing systems and teams on board.

We recommend building and distributing a metric guide for your colleagues to ensure their reporting and contributions to your analytics become and remain consistent. This may seem like quite a bit of work upfront, but the payoff saves you exponential time down the road. After explaining and circulating this guideline document, request your colleagues to have their updated reporting metrics in a realistic amount of time. After all, conforming to your data coding preferences will shift their own processes as well, so set a pragmatic deadline.

3. Aim for Mindful Repetitions

Building toned muscled depends upon an optimal number of repetitions, and one of the biggest elements of successful data analysis is consistently updating your data. For some companies this means weekly data pulls once a week. For others, it’s once a day. If your data is set up and contributed properly, as our second point highlights, this process should be quick and painless.

Remember – don’t break the chain. Much like physical workouts, if you put off pulling your data on schedule, even if it’s just for a day, it will be easier to procrastinate again the next time. Data is much easier to manage the first time around than it is to fix later, so stick to your schedule.

4. Circle Back for Progress Checks

Revisit your data management program at the scheduled checkpoints you created for yourself in your plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What data is still taking me a long time to prepare? Why?
  2. What processes can I streamline further?
  3. What’s working, and what isn’t?
  4. Am I saving myself time yet? How much more time have I given myself for analysis?

If you aren’t making incremental progress and gaining more time to search for actionable insights while minimizing time dedicated to data management, it’s time to take a step back and focus on a new direction.

If the issue lies with a system or team member passing off incorrectly-formatted data, consider how you could make this process easier for them. The more you can simplify their processes and the fewer obstacles they face, the more likely they are to helping you reach your goal.

5. Upgrade Your Tools

Are you trying to force Excel to do everything you need? You’re not alone. 50 to 80 percent enterprise businesses still use standalone spreads.... However, they, as we’re sure you do, get frustrated with the manual, slow data entry and management process Excel creates.

You can’t build muscle without a strong toolset. It’s time to dump your massive spreadsheets tool and use your business intelligence tool for what it does best — compiling the various types of data together and putting in a easy to read format for analysis.

We recommend choosing an intuitive business intelligence solution that simplifies the data upload and management process while illuminating actionable insights for profit improvement quickly and effectively. These solutions can flip the 80/20 time split on its head – allowing analysts to spend up to 80 percent of their time – or more – in analysis and reserving no more than 20 percent of their time cleaning up data.

If you need a better BI solution to help you flex your analysis muscle, KiniMetrix powers through data manipulation quickly and efficiently, helping analysts get to the actionable insights they need. Even better, we can have you up and running in less than 24 hours from receiving your data, putting you even closer to profit improvement.

Bask in Your Newfound Analysis Time

Now that you’ve streamlined and standardized your data preparation and management processes, it’s time to leverage your increased chunks of analysis time to find opportunities for actionable profit improvement. Save your muscle for your responsibilities that matter – the analysis of your data.

If you have any questions on how to increase your time and capacity for data analysis, or if you’d like to receive access to our exclusive KiniMetrix demo, contact our team today.

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