Cleaning Your Data
Business & Leadership Behaviors HLG Products & Functions Technical & Industry Thoughts

Does Your Data Need Cleaning?

When the weather warms up, I start opening windows and thinking about Spring Cleaning. It’s a pain – but there’s something to cleaning everything out and getting a fresh start with the fresh season.

It got me thinking about one of our clients. They’ve got multiple sites in their organization that have a variety of processes for collecting their IT asset inventory data. Most do it manually. A few have tried to scan into an excel sheet. But all are frustrated with the process – and the time it takes.

And the worst part is that once all sites are done – they really don’t trust the data. That’s not good.

The reason that they don’t trust the data is because they say it needs to be “cleaned up”. They’ve complied with the motions of what they needed to do in conducting the inventory. But they don’t trust the data as usable.

Most organizations come to us because they have a need to automate their asset inventory processes so that they can comply with accounting reporting mandates. But in really looking at their situation, every one of our clients had concerns about having bad data.

I still find this situation interesting, because there is definitely a cost that is involved when you have “bad data”. Here are some of the factors that we discuss with our clients – and you may want to consider when you look at the status of your data –and the costs:

Quantity Does Not Mean Quality

There is an overwhelming amount of data available these days. Just think about your last Google search. Tons of information back, right? How much of it was relevant to your question? How much did you have to comb through to find what you were looking for?

Now think about your asset inventory data. You might have a ton of data about the assets that you use to operate your company. But is it usable? Do you trust it to make an accurate purchase or budget decisions – or are you taking that information and then making an educated guess.

You may have a lot of data – but that doesn’t mean that it translates into usable information to manage your business.

There’s Something Missing

For many of our clients, their asset data generally comes from two sources. There’s the original data that they may have collected when they ordered or received the asset and then there’s any information that they’ve collected when they’ve done an inventory. The latter may only provide a status of “yes, we still have it and you can find it here”.

If all you are doing with the data is compliance reporting, then maybe that’s fine. But this information could be even more useful if it was fleshed out a little. For example, if you knew the condition of the asset, you could potentially project when you’d need the budget to replace it.

What don’t you know about the assets that run your business? What would you like to know?

Working Around It

There is definitely a cost to conduct the inventory for your accounting reports. In many cases, it is done by departmental staff if there isn’t a dedicated property manager. In either case, there is the cost of that resource. In the case of the departmental staff, there is also the cost of the delay of their other work.

Compounding that is the potential cost of the rush. What I mean is, when someone rushes through the inventory, like when it isn’t their primary job, they can easily miss something. If that’s the case, they will then need to go back and do it again. So the cost is incurred twice.

These are just a few of the common areas where we see costs surrounding data and processes. Actually, there are many more – especially when you look at it from the perspective of opportunity costs.

What Are the Options

Dealing with the quality of your data means putting some time and effort toward correction. But it doesn’t have to be an incredibly painful process. Spending the time on a full, detailed inventory will net some great results – definitely. However, there are steps that can be taken that ease that burden.

Obviously, I’m a little biased here. But including an automated solution in your process, like our mobilePLUS solution, can really help get your data cleaned up – and in a reasonable amount of time.

By simply automating, you eliminate the risk of making your data worse by taking out the data entry side. Capturing information via scan or RFID and then automatically populating your ERP will ensure that there isn’t any transposition or bad entries in the data. Never mind the fact that there is a huge difference in the time it takes to key data versus the seconds that it takes to transfer data.

A mix of simple screens and functions can also quickly guide the user through getting some ancillary data about an asset – including serial numbers, conditions, etc. By making it easy for the user, they will be able to quickly capture the information that you want while they are doing the inventory that accounting requires.

So you get more information, more quickly, the first time that the inventory is done. And every time you conduct your inventory thereafter, it will improve.

So how is your asset inventory data? Let’s talk.