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HomeBlogData CleanupHow To Conduct A Data Audit In 5 Simple Steps

How To Conduct A Data Audit In 5 Simple Steps

man pointing at audit button

Is It Time to Update Your Data Audit?

A data audit is a systematic examination and evaluation of your data-related processes, systems, and assets to ensure data accuracy, integrity, security, and compliance with relevant regulations and policies.

The primary purpose of a data audit is to assess the quality and reliability of data within your organization and identify areas for improvement. To summarize the value of a data audit for a marketing-centric organization – garbage in, garbage out. You cannot know your customers’ habits or buying patterns with poorly managed data.

When you take a good, hard look at your data assets and how they’re used, you can easily see where money is being wasted, and how to strategically increase your profits.

Why Should I Conduct a Data Audit?

In short, a company and its marketing department need a data audit for several reasons:

  1. Data Trustworthiness: Ensures that data can be trusted for decision-making.

  2. Compliance: Helps adhere to data protection and privacy regulations.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Identifies and addresses potential risks associated with data being stored.
  4. Operational Efficiency: Optimizes data-related processes for improved efficiency.
  5. Strategic Decision-Making: Provides reliable data for informed business decisions.

By conducting regular data audits, you can maintain data integrity, enhance security measures, and align your data management practices with industry standards and regulations.

Five Simple Steps to Conducting a Data Audit:

1 – Determine What You Have:

Before data can work for you, you must understand the data you possess. Your data assets might be scattered across various platforms, software, apps, and servers. Create a comprehensive list of your data assets, including customer information in CRM software, purchase data from point-of-sale systems, data from online shopping carts, contacts for email marketing, social media followers and fans, and customer data stored in Excel on a server. Don’t overlook data stored by third-party resources – anything used by your team should be considered.

2 – Locate Your Data:

Once you’ve identified your data assets, you need to determine where they are and how to access them. Even if everyone on your team uses the same CRM software, there might still be data missing or scattered in various places. For instance, sales teams might have prospect information in personal email accounts or on social media. Your aim is to pinpoint the exact locations of your data so that you can decide where it should ideally reside.

3 – Interview Key Personnel:

Identify the data owners and data users in your organization.  Ideally there should be an overall owner even though segments of the data may be owned by different groups or individuals.

To get a comprehensive view of all your data, consult with team members who regularly use this data. While you may not be able to interview every employee, speaking with team leaders and department heads can reveal what data they possess, where they store it, how they use it, and any challenges they encounter.

4 – Prioritize and Organize:

Organize the data you’ve identified based on its importance to your company. Determine which information generates the most profits for your company and rank it accordingly. For example, a web-based company might prioritize email addresses over physical mailing addresses, whereas a direct marketing company might emphasize mailing addresses.

5 – Track Data Usage:

In this final step, consolidate the information you’ve gathered thus far. Analyze your data’s storage locations, its value to key players in your company, and how it contributes to daily operations. Identifying and addressing gaps in data utilization is the crucial fifth step in your audit. Often, valuable data goes unused because it isn’t leveraged for decision-making or is ignored altogether.

*Insider Tip:* Data employees often possess the deepest understanding of a company’s data assets. However, what happens if you suddenly lose a key data employee? The replacement must have a comprehensive grasp of data locations, their value, and how they’re employed within your company. A data audit diagram provides a new hire with instant access to data and a profound understanding of its usage.

Food for Thought: Ina Garten’s Herb Coeur a la Crème

Herb Coeur La Creme I like to find unusual ‘appetizers’ to serve my friends when they are over for supper.  Many summers ago, I saw Ina Garten make Herb Coeur a la Crème on her TV show, and I had to try it.

This cream and cheese-based spread is a bit unusual. It’s not as common as, say, spinach dip or hummus.

But sometimes the most unusual recipes are the most delicious!

It’s the same with data audits. When your company is losing money, struggling to find customers, or watching your marketing dollars disappear, you may be tempted to keep throwing the proverbial spaghetti at the wall, hoping something will stick. But just like the unusual appetizer that turns out to be the hit of the party, a data audit will be the unexpected solution to your toughest marketing challenges.

Another reason I like this recipe is because I can make it a day ahead of time, and it only gets better overnight! That Ina is a wizard!  Try it – it will make your brains fall out!

Are you ready to dive into a data audit? Good for you! For more information check out our webpage on Data Cleaning & Data Audits. If you have questions during the process, or you’d like to find out how Massa & Company can conduct a data audit for you, contact Bonnie at (312) 463-1050 or by contacting us now.

Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofits to make the best use of their information about customers, partners, donors and sponsors. With more than 40 years of experience in marketing and predictive analytics, Bonnie is passionate about helping clients make informed, data-driven decisions to increase the value of their customer base. She strongly believes that making pasta and ice cream from scratch are worth the effort, and she spends much of her free time testing and re-testing that theory.


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