Cleaning Your Data Manually – A Data Quality Initiative Doomed to Failure

Anyone whose company depends on a database, will agree that data quality is critically important. Sadly, many of these same people, when allocating budgets will not be ready to invest money in data quality by cleaning a database to improve/remove out-of-date, incomplete and/or duplicate records. It seems that there is almost always a higher priority project against which to spend. Even worse, dirty versus clean data might be a simple concept, but it’s not a simple problem. In an earlier post, we presented the reasons why the “write an in-house script” quick, easy, cheap data fix is neither quick, nor easy, nor cheap. Today we’d like to talk about another perennial favorite data fix:

Let’s Do It Manually!

Assigning administrative staff, the marketing team, summer interns and even your sales team to the task of cleaning up data is a recipe for disaster. Yet, it’s a pretty common occurrence, usually based on the thinking that the people who are using the database all the time should, of course, be held responsible for the quality of the data they are working with and therefore accountable to clean and update data as a part of their job

Here are 6 reasons why you need to defend your data against anyone who tries to push through this unproductive strategy.

1. Inconsistent - Cleaning data manually is inconsistent, not only from person to person but also from day to day. While one day Dave Smith and D. Smith might be identified as a duplicate contact, the following day a different decision can easily be made. People don’t interpret directions in a consistent way, either individually or as a group. Some days, they’ll be brutally literal, but on others more flexible.

2. Inaccurate - Data cleaning is tedious, boring and yet highly exacting work. It’s precisely the kind of job that will be filled with mistakes caused by a lack of attention to detail.

3. Demoralizing - Data cleaning is seen as an unskilled, almost demeaning task. If you don’t believe that, I suggest you talk with a sales rep who has been advised that updating their client addresses is now their responsibility and a priority, to boot.

4. Expensive - The costs of cleaning data manually are hidden, but high. The expense is real and since no one department owns it, the expense quickly becomes unmanageable, buried in stats that show growing overhead and declining productivity (not to mention any lost revenue opportunity) with no clear reason of what’s happening or a way to fix it.

5. Ineffective - Cleaning Data will NEVER be tackled as a priority. It will be pushed aside every time your person in accounting needs to run the payables, receivables, payroll or your sales team needs to talk to a prospect or your marketing group needs to put out a campaign or your summer intern goes back to school. Your progress on the task will never match the goal.

6. Damaging - Your data only gets worse - The commitment to clean data is a never-ending task. No matter how much headway you can make on misguided manual efforts, data does not stay clean. New, imperfect records enter your database, merged data from other projects or divisions introduce more duplication. People come and go. Companies grow, merge, acquire and close. It never stops.

We could keep on writing about why deciding to manually clean data is a bad idea. But hopefully you can see that taking this approach will not save you money, will cost you a lot of time, hurt morale and on top of that- won’t get your data cleaned up. There might have been a time when overlooking all the pitfalls of attempting to clean data manually seemed necessary because there were no better options. The good news is that this has changed.

Fix the Problem Once- Come to an Expert

ActivePrime is dedicated to data quality with solutions that work at dirty data from every angle. · CleanImport scrubs your list before you import new leads. · CleanEnter checks your new entry against existing records to prevent you from creating a new record when - in fact- it already exists. · CleanCRM catches duplicates already in your CRM. They all work on the same logic. They all work in perfect harmony, and they will make your data clean.

Try them yourself for free with a 14-day trial @