Data management, a critical practice across various industries, involves handling data as a valuable strategic resource. This involves collecting, processing, governing, sharing, and analyzing data in an efficient, effective, and reliable way. However, the challenge lies in avoiding data management complexities and enhancing this process to support analytics, data science, and machine learning more effectively.

To gain deeper insights into advanced data management practices, you may have recently implemented an online database application like TrackVia. Or perhaps you are looking to implement an online database for the first time, or maybe you are new to an organization and looking to effectively manage the online database you are working with 

With this in mind, there are 5 key tips and tricks that can be used to effectively manage the online database application you are working with.

1) Set up your online database to reflect your business

Setting up an online database that accurately mirrors your business operations is a crucial step in managing and utilizing your data effectively. This process involves creating a database that is flexible and adaptable to meet your unique needs, corresponds to your business model, and facilitates seamless operations.

  • Understand Your Business Model: Have a comprehensive understanding of your business model. This includes knowing your processes, operations, and workflows. Identify the data points that are crucial for running your business and track them consistently.
  • Be Adaptable and Flexible: Ensure that your database application can adapt to changing business needs. This could involve adding new tables or fields as your business grows, or modifying existing structures to accommodate changes in your processes. You should be able to add new categories or attributes in your table without disrupting existing operations.
  • Create a User-Friendly Interface: The database should be easy to use for all stakeholders – managers, employees, and even customers (if they have access). The interface should be intuitive, and data retrieval should be quick and straightforward. This will increase user adoption and the overall effectiveness of your database.
  • Implement Data Governance: Define who has access to what data, ensuring data quality, and setting up procedures for data backup and recovery. This will ensure your database remains secure, reliable, and effective.
  • Integration Capabilities: Your database should integrate seamlessly with other systems you use, such as CRM, ERP, or marketing automation tools. This ensures that data flows smoothly across your organization, improving efficiency and reducing the risk of errors.

2) Ensure data accuracy by closing out actions and reminders when complete

When an action or reminder is complete, while it is fresh in your mind, you should close those items out. This will trigger follow-up actions and reminders, and keep your data up-to-date, which is crucial for several reasons. A few notable reasons to mention:

  • Data Accuracy: Outdated or incorrect data can lead to misinformed decisions, which can negatively impact your business. Promptly closing out actions and reminder, and updating your database, ensures that all data used for analysis and decision-making is accurate and reliable.
  • Operational Efficiency: When actions or reminders are completed, closing these items triggers follow-up actions and sets new reminders. This streamlines workflows, reduces redundancy, and increases operational efficiency.
  • Compliance: Depending on the industry your business operates in, you may be required by law to keep certain information updated. Regularly updating your database ensures compliance with these regulations, helping to avoid potential legal issues.

Keeping your online database up-to-date is not just a good practice—it’s essential for your business to run efficiently.

3) Don’t try to gather all data at once – keep it simple

Simpler is better. You need to present as few obstacles as possible during the process and only request the data that is relevant to the process you are working with.  

Simplicity is key for multiple reasons, especially when it comes to data collection and management:

  • Improved User Experience: A simple process with minimal steps enhances the user experience. By requesting only the relevant data initially, you reduce friction and make it easier for people to access the data they need.
  • Follow-up Opportunities: The strategy of collecting only basic information at first and then getting additional data later is to provide an excellent opportunity for follow-up engagement. This not only allows you to gather more information but also helps build stronger relationships. In the case of retail operations, it can also offer opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. In other areas, it can help to clarify the data needed in your processes. 
  • Efficient Database Management: Focusing on collecting only necessary data during the process gives you the chance to verify the accuracy of the data provided more easily during the process and helps keep your database manageable and efficient. You avoid cluttering your database with unnecessary information, making it easier to maintain and manage and provide better data quality.

4) Standardize data entry procedures

This has to do with database design. Reflect your business processes in the design of your database. Tables, fields, and relationships should be set up to mirror the flow of data through your business process. For example, in an ecommerce business, you might have separate tables for customers, orders, products, and inventory, with defined relationships between them. Then standardize the type of data that should go into each category and a procedure for each table.

Standardizing data entry procedures is crucial for maintaining data integrity and consistency. Here are three simple steps to achieve this:

  1. Create a Data Entry Manual: Document your data entry procedures in a comprehensive manual. This manual should be easily accessible to all staff involved in data entry and include clear instructions on how to input data into each field, the format to use (e.g., date formats), and any rules or constraints (e.g., mandatory fields, character limits). Also, include examples and scenarios to help users understand the procedures better.  For example, you may have a rule that states “Avoid using spaces or special characters (like * or +) in the name, as it may cause issues when inputting the data into a database.” 
  2. Implement Data Validation Rules: Use your database application’s features to enforce data entry standards. This could include setting up mandatory fields, defining acceptable ranges or formats for numerical data, and using dropdown lists to ensure consistent entries for certain fields. Validation rules can automatically check data as it’s entered and alert users to any violations, helping to maintain data quality.

03 / Conduct Regular Training: Regularly train your staff on data entry procedures. This can help ensure that everyone understands the standards and knows how to apply them. Training should cover the content of the data entry manual, how to use validation rules, and how to handle any errors or issues. Refresher training sessions can help reinforce these procedures and accommodate any updates or changes.

By following these steps, you can standardize your data entry procedures, which will lead to more consistent and reliable data, improving the effectiveness of your database management.

You can even implement new standard procedures if your database already contains thousands of records. Simply put the procedures in place for all new records and as time allows, you can go back and correct previous entries.

In addition, consider how you would like to handle missing information and how to record the date the file was most recently updated, so you do not continue to revisit records that were recently updated for correction.

5) Schedule periodic reviews of data

Everyone loves spring cleaning, right? We all know we feel better when we know things are cleaned and organized. At least twice a year, take the time to run different reports from your online database to help identify problems with the data. Scheduling regular data reviews is a crucial part of effective database management. 

In terms of implementing regular data reviews, here are some suggestions:

  • Set a Schedule: Depending on the size and complexity of your database, decide on a review frequency that suits your needs. This could be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually.
  • Define Review Parameters: Determine what aspects of your data you will review. This could include checking for duplicates, verifying data accuracy, assessing data relevance, and checking compliance with data regulations.
  • Utilize Database Tools: Many database applications offer tools that can automate parts of the review process, such as identifying duplicates or missing data. Leverage these tools to make your reviews more efficient.
  • Document Your Reviews: Keep a record of each review, including what was checked, what issues were found, and what actions were taken. This can help track progress over time and identify recurring issues.

By adopting these practices, you can ensure your online database remains accurate, relevant, and efficient.

With the growing need for online database applications, the need for individuals who understand process management and the basics of managing online databases also increases. These tips and tricks will help you manage your online database application and glean the valuable experience you need to continue to further your career.

If you’re interested in implementing a database application, let us show you how easy it is to customize and manage a database for your processes. 

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