Small businesses rarely give importance to data management. Many believe only big companies or corporations benefit from it. But data management is extremely important for small businesses.
Irrespective of the size of the data that is collected, collecting and managing data provides real value for small business owners. An IDC report revealed data that business enterprises store will rise at a rate of 60% annually.
Small businesses might find it too technical and overwhelming when they try to leverage data to generate profits, but what they don’t realize is that once data is managed properly profits will eventually flow.
The following are the data management tips designed specifically with small business owners in mind.
1. Develop a simple data storage system.
Electronic files can be managed in exactly the same way as paper documents by dedicating a fixed storage space for all the documents that are created, received and used. This is achieved by maintaining the right file name format for different work documents.
It is important to maintain a central document that stores the inventory or all customer data and most importantly, a policy must be developed that all employees will adhere to. This can drastically improve back-office efficiency. Everything must be placed exactly where they are supposed to be so that everyone can locate them easily.
A survey revealed that 25% of enterprises implemented platforms and tools such as NoSQL database and Hadoop for data management. Small businesses must commit to a basic data strategy that will effectively capture, store, access and manipulate data.
2. Identify data storage needs.
More data storage space has become a prerequisite for small businesses. Storage needs of small businesses must be assessed with respect to data, applications and the ease of accessibility of that data.
More and more space will be required to store data such as documents, emails, databases, graphics, presentations, spreadsheets and audio files. A better idea about data storage needs can be obtained by knowing how much data you are dealing with and when, where and how that data can be accessed.
When a data storage policy is developed, effective data storage solutions such as network attached storage, direct attached storage or cloud can be easily identified and invested in.
3. Get familiar with industry compliance.
Depending on your industry, you may face a growing onslaught of regulations. These government regulations increase compliance burdens on small businesses. Therefore it is essential to develop a strategy, a data management plan that includes data quality, data integration, data governance, master data management and data analytics.
These processes help small businesses comply with regulatory objectives such as processing, information access and designing storage mechanisms that align with regulations governing their respective data types.
The right data management must include data warehousing, data quality and analysis and scenario generation, along with an organized IT backdrop which enables compliance with the myriad of regulations that must be met. Noncompliance can result in steep penalties.
4. Let go of redundant data.
Many small business owners don’t realize the importance of getting rid of redundant data from their records. But it is extremely important to note that redundant data can create chaos and eventually incur huge losses for the business.
Much worst, a company’s reputation can be ruined in the industry leading to customer distrust. For example, if a customer changes their contact information this can lead to records being encoded more than once. These small errors have the capability of developing into a major problem.
Small businesses should make an effort to analyze their data and identify what is valid, discard old and outdated data and delete duplicate copies. Letting go of redundant data also reduces overall storage costs and improves storage efficiency.
5. Backup all data.
Small businesses have to protect their business data. Data backup is extremely important in running a successful business. Human error, computer system crashes and natural disasters are three things that can compromise data.
Close to 62% of small business owners who encountered natural disasters in the past three years, lost crucial data which affected sales and customers. To avoid loss of data, data backup systems in the form of offsite servers or separate drives must be used to store massive amounts of data.
Government regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, makes it mandatory for businesses to maintain a backup of a variety of data which the business would have otherwise deleted. Businesses must also watch out for spyware and viruses which can cause severe damage.
6. Prioritize data security.
Data must be secured in the most sophisticated form possible to prevent being hacked by unscrupulous third parties. Small businesses must prepare an effective response plan that will come in handy at times of breach, not only at the technical and tactical level, but even at the executive level.
Attention should be given not only to external threats, but also internal threats. Even when background checks are done on most employees and a trusted workplace environment is created, occasionally someone takes an inappropriate action that can compromise data. To combat this small business owners should encrypt sensitive data and access should be heavily monitored.
7. Outsource data management.
By outsourcing data management, small businesses can focus on their core competency and significantly improve productivity. Hiring an offsite vendor can also prove to be cost effective as there won’t be any need for the business to invest in the latest technology and worry about regulatory compliance.
A professional data management provider can also provide small businesses with expert advice. It also helps in developing an efficient way of managing and storing data that can help small business owners get better opportunities and easily identify profit makers for further expansion and growth.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Arvind Rongala is a Manager of Business Development and Marketing at Invensis, an IT-BPO service provider that has been satisfying clients around the world since 2000. With a footprint that spans offices in the US and India, the company has an employee base of more than 1,200 professionals and delivers positive results to clients in over diverse service categories, including: IT outsourcing services, finance and accounting (F&A) outsourcing, back office BPO (Data Entry and Data Processing Services), call center outsourcing, healthcare BPO, e-commerce support, corporate Training, and digital marketing services. Connect with @invensis on Twitter.