What is data management and how can it help your business?
Data management is the process of storing and organising data within a business as well and managing the security of it.
Typically, this process happens via a series of shared folders, either on a server or hosted in the Cloud via an application such as Microsoft SharePoint. Whilst data can be easily added, moved and deleted from either of these solutions, the process of good data management focuses on making data easy to locate for end users as well as being safe and secure. Ultimately, the aim of a good data management strategy is to make the process of finding using data within an organisation as efficient and secure as possible.
Why does a business need a data management strategy?
No-one designs a SharePoint site, a shared drive or any kind of file and folder structure to be intentionally difficult to navigate and use, but they often end up this way.
With a poor data management solution, users have the ability to create new folders, add files (without any agreed naming conventions) and create duplicate documentation (sometimes in different locations), making it difficult for anyone to find what they need.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to find information within your own organisation, or know that others find the process frustrating, then you need a data management strategy.
A messy data structure can also create data security issues, with sensitive data potentially available to all employees which could ultimately lead to data loss in the future should any employee get hacked. By controlling access to only the data and documentation each employee needs you can significantly reduce this risk.
What problems does poor data management cause?
As well as the obvious efficiency and security problems caused by poor data management, it can also have a knock-on effect throughout your organisation.
Firstly, your staff are likely to be incredibly frustrated and annoyed by their inability to access the data and information they need to do their jobs. This can affect staff morale, productivity and in extreme circumstances, staff retention too.
It can also lead to errors, or the use of incorrect data to make decisions. If a process in not in place to save and store data in the correct places then information that isn’t up to date or is incorrect may be used in place of the correct version because data may have been stored in a different location (maybe even locally on someone’s PC!). Depending on the data, this could have a significant impact on reporting and the decisions that are made from the resulting reports.
Without utilising the latest technology to assist with data management, such as SharePoint and OneDrive, your organisation will also miss out on the numerous opportunities to benefit from data collaboration. With documents which can be accessed by multiple people at the same time, employees will be able to work on documents together in real-time and the need to save multiple versions of the same information (which is often then sent back and forth by email) is removed too.
Furthermore, if you share data outside of your organisation then a modern approach to data management solves a number of problems. Data can be shared in a secure method, using encryption to share data outside your organisation, and larger files can be easily distributed without having to resort to DropBox, memory sticks or CDs, all of which pose their own security issues.
All of these problems mean that your team are frustrated, you are frustrated and even the simplest of tasks can feel like a big challenge.
How to improve data management within a business
The way to improve data management within a business is two-fold; you need a plan and you need the right technology.
In order to create a plan, you need to review what you have currently as well as working out where you want to be. When we work with businesses to review existing structures and plan out new data management strategies at The HBP Group, this is done by bringing in key people within the organisation to agree what a great structure looks like in terms of folders, naming conventions, sharing options, data security, data access and everything related to this.
Getting everyone to think about how they would like to access data, how they would search for data and how data should be shared both inside and outside of the organisation are all important discussion points.
From a technology point of view there are few solutions as good as the suite of products included with a Microsoft 365 subscription when it comes to data management.
Utilising a combination of OneDrive and SharePoint, coupled with the enhancement of the data security options within Microsoft 365 and a tailored training plan for staff, virtually any scenario can be catered for.
With a plan and the right software solution, you can be confident that your data will be stored in a single, secure location which can be accessed easily by the people who need it. With a structured training plan you will also be confident that the new structure will be used correctly by existing employees and that future employees can be easily trained as well.
What are the outcomes of good data management?
With a structured and planned data management strategy organisations can benefit from:
- Increased data security
- Data and documents which are easier and quicker to locate
- The ability to implement new processes and best practices related to data management
- The removal of old technology (and the related costs of it)
- Happier staff and more efficient processes
- Inclusion and empowerment of remote and home workers
- Reduction in the possibility of duplicate documents and incorrect data
How can we help?
In order to help businesses with their data management strategy we offer a completely free data management review which allows us to understand your current processes and structures and recommend the best way forward. If you need any assistance, then please get in touch, we have offices around the country including Hull, Peterborough and Scunthorpe