4 Easy Ways to Eliminate Data Cleaning Frustrations

Data is the core of business analysis and provides valuable insights into company performance, customer behavior, sales and marketing results and operational effectiveness. However, your analysis is only as good as the data you are using or feeding into a process and even a tiny mistake can cause big quality problems. In fact, almost 90% of spreadsheets have errors! The only way to get value out of your data is to first prepare the data.

Data contamination can occur in many ways including:

  • Using data that is from different sources and various formatting rules can cause inconsistent and incomplete information. Problems occur because your data does not contain valid information, there are typographical errors, or records only partially match existing records.
  • Duplicate data like customer records or vendor information creates discrepancies making it challenging or impossible to accurately calculate key metrics like your bottom line or profitability.
  • When data values are outside of a defined range of values, or outliers are included, your analysis could be skewed. For example, if you want to identify all products that have an expiration date in a date range or a group of employees within a defined salary range for a report, but you have data included that doesn’t fall in these ranges, your analysis is impacted because you have invalid information contained in your dataset.
  • If you have data stored in multiple workbooks or unnecessarily spread over numerous worksheets, this could create all kinds of nightmares with syncing and updating information. For example, it is not unusual to have different variations of customer records stored in several places. Most likely there could be different spellings of the customer name and variations in phone numbers and addresses or updates are made in one record but not the others. Because of these inaccuracies, you can’t effectively consolidate data making it difficult to measure sales and marketing results, customer issues are harder to manage, and reporting is erroneous.

frustrated office worker

Data problems like this are frustrating and can be overwhelming, complex, and time consuming to adjust and correct. And when your data is contaminated with errors, inaccuracies and omissions—then you're unlikely to draw sound conclusions in any analysis you perform.

Often, analyst professionals try to take on data cleansing using Excel which is a very powerful tool, but it can be onerous to work with. In addition, if a more complex Excel feature is needed for your data clean-up efforts it may require spending time going through YouTube tutorials, doing some VBA scripting or involving an IT expert.

Fortunately, there are ways that the frustrations of data cleaning can be eliminated using purpose-built data preparation software that can save you a lot of time and maintain data integrity in the process. Data preparation software is designed to take on dirty data by providing capabilities to merge, validate, clean and calculate data on a platform that unifies everything in one place.

The following are 4 easy ways data preparation software can eliminate the frustrations of cleaning your contaminated data.

  1. 1. Provides a DIY way for non-technical users to clean data without specialized skills. Data preparation software that is designed for non-technical business users provides an easy to use visual interface that incorporates a drag and drop functionality that streamlines the data management and cleaning process. No coding is required so detailed and complex calculations and manipulations can be handled right in the software, minimizing the need to involve IT departments or having to sort through lengthy Excel tutorials. The visual interface makes it easier to review tables, spot data inaccuracies, and track changes.
  2. 2. Ability to auto-document for easier collaboration. Auto-documentation provides a straightforward way to collaborate with peers and allow others to pick up a project without detailed explanations of what has transpired.
  3. 3. Can “go back in time” to validate and adjust the data. With each update in data preparation software, every edit and action is captured for easier data validation. In addition, all calculations are dynamically synced which eliminates the need to update many different sources of information and reduces manual errors.
  4. 4. Use of automation for considerable time savings. Whenever there are data cleaning tasks that are repeated daily, weekly, monthly or whenever, automation can be used to cut down on the time to manually process information. For example, if you receive spreadsheets from multiple locations for a monthly financial close process, you can set up a process to open the emails, download the spreadsheets and consolidate the information into one master file. Multiple steps can also be incorporated, so after the master file is created, you can also filter, segment, calculate and more. This frees you up from spending time on these tedious activities, so you can focus your efforts on work that matters.

Using data preparation software, like EasyMorph, can significantly reduce the frustrations of cleaning contaminated data while using Excel. You can download your free version of EasyMorph today just by clicking here and be up and running in less than 10 minutes.

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