Data is among the most important resources that aid any business. However, more often than not we neglect the importance to clean & manage data. Numerous issues may turn up when a business is dealing with a large amount of data. Trying to clean up the mess only after something has gone sideways can cost the business money and loss of brand value. No matter what database management system (DBMS) or content management system (CMS) is being used, there are few common issues that can crop up. The processes for cleaning & managing data across the systems are pretty much the same. For convenience, we will be concentrating on Excel while dealing with examples.
What are the common issues faced while cleaning & managing data?
As mentioned, while storing data numerous issues may crop up. The following are the common problems faced while cleaning & managing data:
- Incomplete data – If we speak about the Excel data sheet while dealing with a large group of data we often come across empty fields and cells. These are categorized as incomplete data. In Excel, the best way to identify empty cells will be by sorting. Do not forget to expand the selection to other rows/columns to maintain integrity.
- Inconsistent data – When the data stored in a particular field is not consistent, it creates the issue of inconsistent data. One example will be the use of all capitals in some cells while capitalizing the first letter of each word in other cases. Such inconsistent data need to be made consistent.
- Incorrect data – The meaning is pretty literal in this case. If the data entered into the database is incorrect it can create major issues in the long run whenever the data will be referred to. The only way to identify will be via manual check.
Cleaning & managing data: The effective way
Before you start cleaning & managing data, make sure you take an offline copy to perform all the operations. It is highly risky to perform cleaning & management operation on the live database. Here are a few simple steps:
- Batch selection and correction – This is great if you are managing inconsistent data. You can select a large group and use one single font type, size, format, and structure for all.
- Using conditional operators – Excel allows the use of conditional operators such as ‘IF’. You can highlight all the data sets that will conform to a said type using the ‘IF’ statement. Know which conditional operators are available to you.
- Find and Replace – This is perfect in a number of cases where a common mistake might be present. For example, changing ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ to ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ respectively.
- Remove excess space – This is a common issue and can be easily solved in the Excel by using the function ‘TRIM’.
- Merge multiple data sets – Some data sets can cause redundancy and needs to be merged. In Excel ‘CONCATENATE’ is a useful function to perform this operation.
Cleaning & managing data makes the operation much more effective. There are numerous ways to do it. However, ignoring it will be a major mistake.