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4 MIN READ
I learned the importance of data starting in high school working at a local CPA firm in downtown San José during my summers.
Making my way through rows of filing cabinets, building up a tolerance to papercuts, and sneezing my way through dusty file folders, I took numbers off pieces of paper and turned them into financial statements. Sometimes it was straightforward data entry. Other times I double-checked the math after translating illegible debits and credits into typed balance sheets and income statements. Today I am so adept at ten-key I can type rows of numbers without looking at the keypad. I am also so grateful now for Excel formulas, pivot tables, and tools like Salesforce and FormAssembly that can bring clarity, transparency, and automation to once complex and highly manual (and thus, fraught with human error) processes.
In my over 10 years of being a certified Salesforce Administrator and over 20 years of championing Excel, I am a firm believer that the more data you can have at your fingertips, the more questions you can develop to find intelligent answers to. But in my years of working with corporations, startups, and nonprofits, I’ve seen varying levels of success making use of the data that is available.
Often, the challenge isn’t just what to do with the data you do have, but how to get the data you really need for the scale and impact you want. This might mean taking a step back and asking yourself, “What data do I have now, what am I using it for, and how has that been helpful?” It might then lead you to ask more questions like, “What data should I continue to track, what questions will they answer, and how will that be helpful in the long-term?”
If as a professional, manager, or executive, you are not asking yourself these questions at regular intervals (I recommend quarterly if not annually), then I highly recommend that you start now.
Once you go through this fact-finding mission of understanding what data you have and what it is used for, the next important question is, “How am I protecting it?”
I’d like to give you the use-cases, best practices, and tools to develop an intentional action plan around data privacy to ensure you are protecting the data you have and the data you intend to collect. Read my next article “A Review of GDPR and CCPA” to learn about the most important regulations and legislations that inform the policies and practices you may need to develop around data privacy.
Want support developing a data dictionary?
A data dictionary is a document (Word, Excel, whatever suits your fancy) that describes the types of data collected, the sources, the intended uses, and how the data is stored, archived, and scrubbed/deleted over time. Let’s talk about how our advisors can help you customize a data dictionary for you that tracks all of your data elements from all of your sources (e.g. Google Analytics, Salesforce, Google Sheets, Excel). Schedule your free 20-min consultation now.
About Author: Meredith "Mer" Curry
Mer has always had a passion for education and helping historically underrepresented groups achieve access and success to higher opportunities. She has consulted nonprofits, educational institutions, and businesses in addition to her volunteerism and mentorship of students.
Learn more about Mer at www.meredithcurry.com.