Inertia Contributes to Bad Data

Inertia Contributes to Bad Data

Without knowing anything about your organization or its data, I'd be willing to bet you have data in your system that you are no longer actively managing/using (e.g., data that was collected long ago for some initiative at the time) or, worse yet, actively collecting data that you aren't actually using (e.g., demographic data collected during membership join process).

In both cases, one of the contributing factors to why this is happening is inertia. That is, once we've started collecting data, we continue to collect it, just because we always have. Or once we've collected data, we continue to keep it on a record, even though it's not being used (because it's easier to just leave it there than it is to clean it out).

I once worked with a client on a data management project. In the course of the project, we identified several data fields within the database that no one could really explain. Finally, one staff person pointed out that, in each case, a prior marketing director had asked to collect the data. Then that marketing director left, a new one came in, and asked for different data. And then a third marketing director did the same thing. The result? Five years later, lots of data that no one is actually using.

No organization is immune to this. It requires intentional action to clean up data that is no longer being used, and intentional action to identify business processes that are collecting data that never gets touched.

What actions are you taking to keep your data clean? Don't let inertia win.

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

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