To effectively perform a mid-year audit of your data requires resources and collaboration across internal teams. The reward? Your organization can proactively identify gaps in your data, understand where data could be driving deeper conversation across teams, and gain confidence that you have the information to achieve your goals by end of year.
While a data audit can sound intensive, it can exist on various levels and still be effective. Technology will also support your organization’s ability to perform a wider audit, with fewer resources. At the core of any successful audit are two things: communication and the right questions. We break down the key questions that should guide your mid-year data check below. Once you have the answers, prioritize areas to address first based on the impact to your business. Then see what resources are available to slowly address those priorities. At UpMetrics, we often say that there is no such thing as bad data. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is now!
Do I have buy-in across the organization?
It is crucial that your entire organization understands why good data collection practices are important, and the advantages of being a data-driven organization. That way data will not be de-prioritized on any team, leading to gaps in data or miscommunication about who you’re impacting and how. You’ll experience the following advantages:
- A clear foundation for long-term success
- The ability to identify and avoid common data mistakes
- Visualizations and metrics that accurately reflect your data
- Complete data that tells the story of what is actually happening
- Easy data updates with an existing system and/or process
Is my data collection set up to scale over time?
Have you and your team intentionally thought about how the same data will be collected not just once, but in the months and quarters to come? Use consistent fields when collecting data so you can easily compare progress over time. Drop-downs are a great way to do this , as well as unique IDs when possible.
Do I have the right stakeholders in the room?
Sometimes, those in charge of setting the rules for data collection are not the ones collecting it. Have you chatted with the team on the ground about the best way to collect this data? With our clients at UpMetrics, we always start with “does this process make sense for on the ground staff?” Data collection can be challenging and is the first thing that can fall off someone’s plate. It’s important to make it as frictionless as possible.
Are there gaps in my data?
Try to visualize your data so you can see any gaps. This will be an effective way to see if your team needs to spend time backfilling data or if you can start from today and implement better guidelines moving forward.
Are we following data best practices?
A clear way to ensure clean data for your next data audit is to communicate and instate best practices across the organization. We’re highlighting a few here. Explore our guide to being data-driven for additional points by filling in your email below.
- Collect data in standardized rows and columns, and keep column headers consistent over time.
- Prevent mis-spellings and maintain formatting consistency by providing lists as answer options whenever a predetermined set of answers is expected.
- Ensure your spelling and casing is consistent for the same values.
- Use unique IDs where applicable (ex. Participant ID, Event ID, Class ID, or School ID)
- Use ethical practices to collect data
Learn more in our recent blog post on taking an equity lens to your data
Download our full guide to being data-driven: