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Data Preparation: How To Do It Right

Nov 22, 2021 8:00:00 AM

The purpose of data preparation is to ensure your business or organization has accurate, up-to-date data to do its best work. This is not down to a singular process but rather a series of measures you should take, so every component of your business is running at optimal levels. 

For instance, if you are about to take on a new client or project, you need to do preparation work before getting started. Data preparation is a vital part of laying down the foundations for a successful outcome. When you get it right, you will have the ability to analyze information efficiently and use the data to refine your operations and projects. 

Data Preparation Explained 

In short, data preparation is the act of locating, cleaning, and optimizing your data. The idea is to have a set of data ready to go for all your company’s needs. For comparison, think of a chef of a busy restaurant before the orders come in. They put in hours of work beforehand to prepare the ingredients and the kitchen, so once customers come in, the team is ready. 

The art of data preparation comes down to these key components: 

  • Accuracy: The data needs to be accurate, with duplicates and erroneous data removed.  
  • Accessibility and format: One of the most common issues companies face is dealing with the multiple formats data can be held. Storing the data in a secure location, like the cloud or data warehouses, will alleviate some of these issues. 
  • Security: Securing your sensitive data is critical. In a world where data leaks cause structural and reputational damage, they can make or break your business. 
  • Updated data: This is illustrative of how data preparation is not simply a one-off process but a continual one. The data that your business relies on will need to be kept updated at all times. 

It’s also important to point out this is not the same as data management. Some may argue that it’s the first stage of managing data, where it is refined and organized so that it can be used. Either way, data preparation is crucial in making companies tick. 

The Fine Detail of Data 

Given the essential role that data plays in the 21st-century economy, it’s not surprising to find the detail matters. For your company to perform at optimal levels, having a clean, accurate data set is essential. Imagine, for example, if you need instant access to key customer information, such as address, order history, age, birthday, and so on, the first thing you would expect is that data to be correct. 

In doing so, you would be able to respond to any inquiries or issues efficiently and professionally, giving the customer confidence in your business. If you get back quickly but with the wrong information - that would lead to further issues, a drop in confidence, and take up more of your time to resolve it. 

This is just one area where data preparation can make all the difference, and it applies to every aspect of your business.  

Taking this detailed approach to data by preparing it first and making it ready for your company to use when needed will pay off in the long term. 

How to Prepare Data 

By now, you might be wondering if there was a shortcut to taking all the raw data and refining it for use. The answer lies in technology, and more specifically, the cloud. A data storage facility, whether it’s a data warehouse or lake, can support dozens, if not hundreds, of applications simultaneously. 

The dynamic nature of data storage enables you to continually prepare the data in real-time. By turning to an advanced EDI solution like the ones provided by DiCentral, you will have the technology that can help you manage the data. 

However, it’s important that the technology is supported by strong data governance. The four pillars of data governance all apply to data preparation: 

  • Policies and Processes  
  • Accountability and Responsibilities  
  • Technology  
  • Handling Metadata  

The purpose of data governance is to ensure the data meets both government regulations and the standards of your business. Adopting this approach from the very first stage of the data management process will stand your company in good stead for its functions at a later stage. 

With data coming from countless sources and in a multitude of formats, then an advanced API management solution can also step in. APIs can absorb the data and deliver a refined set to the relevant application or program. In doing so, your systems can avoid being overwhelmed by data and simply freezing up altogether.  

The art of preparation is to prepare for all eventualities, and by adopting the mix of strategy and technology, you’re doing just that. 

Mastering the Art of Data Preparation 

As you will no doubt see in this post, the value of data preparation is immeasurable. It delivers the clean fuel your business needs to run efficiently and smoothly. 

The value of doing the groundwork will become clear the next time you need information quickly, it’s right there - waiting for you. 

Peter Edlund

Written by Peter Edlund