5 handy tips to cleanse your data

Cleansing data is not a sexy subject to discuss. The means by which you correct mistakes in your Excel spreadsheet is considered subjective as professionals have their own personal take on the matter.

Yet it is vital when an enterprise is formulating their data and can affect anything from financial records to contact information and more.

Those tasked with data cleansing often find themselves manually going through the process without really having a target or philosophy in mind to eat up precious time that could be invested with other tasks.

So let us examine how data cleansing can be a simplified process where analysts and marketers can organise their work in the most efficient of manners.

Here are 5 handy tips to data cleansing.

Know where the issues are

If you feel as though you’re ready just to dive into the Excel spreadsheet before identifying where your issues are, then prepare to feel muddled and confused.

This is where a data quality plan should come into the fold to make it clear what information needs to be corrected, edited, deleted or altered in any fashion.

Whether it is one individual tasked with tackling this challenge or a team within a department, it is vital that a project plan is in place so you know what data needs attention. Should an Excel document be scattered with problems, begin with the most important and work down from there.

Duplicate worksheet

On any Excel spreadsheet, you will find the capacity to create a string of tabs down the bottom of the file. A clever way to ensure that you do not overlook any alterations as you progress through the cleansing is to separate what you started with compared against what you are working on.

By creating a tab titled “raw” or “raw data,” you can distinguish that against the end result with “clean,” “cleansing” or “clean data.” Any errors that happen to take place in the raw section is not magnified by only having one copy as well, working to back-up what you have on file.

Save manual time with Excel tools

If you believe that some tasks in the data cleansing process is repetitive and unnecessary to undertake manually, then chances are there is a tool to eliminate this work time.

Tools like ‘remove duplicates,’ ‘consolidate,’ ‘text to columns’ and ‘what-if analysis’ are there to provide short cuts. Take advantage of what they have to offer and educate the team on their functions. Keep an eye out for spelling errors, as they will often be the cause of missing or false data entries.

Get a third party opinion

While you might feel as though you or your team are more than capable of cleansing data adequately, it never hurts to bring aboard the help of a specialist.

Applications like DataKleenr and Indicative have the tools to ensuring that all coding is up to scratch as old and new data can be merged together with ease.

The intelligence that a businesses utilises is only as good as the analytics they have on hand. Having a third party to assist with appending the files will allow the standardisation and validation process occur smoothly.

Set in motion future guidelines and practices

Now that you have undergone a lengthy process of identifying issues via a data quality plan, duplicated the sheets, used Excel tools and sought the assistance of a third party, put in place some guidelines so the operation can follow that path.

Anyone within the organisation who is involved with data manipulation should be completely aware of every step in this process, providing a simple transition.

Blake Hampton
Blake Hamptonhttp://blakehampton11.wixsite.com/journalist
Freelance writer and journalist covering news, sport, SEO, conservation and entertainment
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