FP&A Data Quality: 5 Signs you Need Better Data Preparation

FP&A Data Quality: 5 Signs you Need Better Data Preparation

By Ian Yates, Managing Director at Barcanet

Business users want the power of analytics – but analytics can only be as good as the data being analysed. A survey by TDWI has revealed best practices to improve data preparation, finding 76% of businesses hope to increase data-driven decision making and 37% are currently unequipped to do so.

It’s common for businesses to rely on spreadsheets to collect and record their data, but spreadsheets can be shockingly unreliable (88% of spreadsheets contain errors), especially considering we use them daily.

If you are encountering problems regarding data analytics in your organisation, then you may need to rethink your strategy for gathering and processing data. Optimising the way in which your business collects data will improve efficiency and make it much easier to analyse the data.

Signs your company needs better data prep

  1. You spend more time collecting relevant data than actually analysing it - if you are finding that employees spend far too much time trying to collect and prepare data rather than actually analyse it, then you should rethink your system. It is important to implement a standardised process that all employees can follow. Or for greater efficiency, rely on automation for incorporating and integrating new data.
  2. The data is outdated or incomplete - it is becoming increasingly necessary for companies to making real-time data-based decisions. If waiting for data reports is a lengthy process, then your team cannot make accurate decisions. To shorten the time of data preparation, your business needs to utilise modern data analytics technology for accurate business insights.
  3. Your system relies on Excel - while Microsoft Excel does have its merits as a powerful tool, spreadsheets are a big culprit for incorrect data. The larger the spreadsheet and the higher number of formulas incorporated into it, the more errors there are likely to be. Even the smallest errors can have a large impact. This could lead to miscalculations that could negatively affect the outcome of important decisions and could be costing your business a great deal of money.
  4. Employees manually rekeying information - human error is inevitable, even with the most experienced users. Your employees could be accidentally entering incorrect data, missing certain data or miscalculating formulas. Data prep is tedious for employees, there’s no denying it, and so they are more likely to make mistakes. Your business cannot rely on manual data preparation – you need quality assurance to be confident in your business decisions.
  5. High salaries for the team in charge of managing data - current methods of data preparation and presentation is insufficient and is costing organisations a lot of money in salaries and valuable company time. The cost of a data prep solution is significantly less than the combined salaries of your data team.

Is there a better way?

It is crucial the data utilised and analysed by your company is accurate.  New analytical software and services have been introduced in recent years that revolutionises analytics. These services create a central system for collecting, storing and interpreting data, including powerful analytics and visualisation tools that configure and present meaningful reports and insights.

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