How to cleanup your digital organization system

How to cleanup your digital organization system

В наши дни люди хранят на разных устройствах миллионы файлов. Это огромный объем самых разнообразных материалов: от любимой музыки до документов, которые нужны для работы или учебы. Чтобы найти в этом море информации нужный файл, можно воспользоваться функцией поиска на ПК или планшете. Однако иногда система выдает столь огромный список результатов, что ее использование теряет всякий смысл. Обычно поиск выполняется по ключевым словам в файле и его описательному имени. Если вы будете создавать и сохранять файлы, придерживаясь определенных правил, то потом сможете найти их значительно быстрее.

Как лучше организовать цифровой контент на личном ПК, каждый решает сам, но есть несколько простых способов быстро навести порядок в файлах.

  • Главное правило звучит так: меньше файлов — меньше беспорядка. Сохраняйте на ПК только действительно важные файлы и регулярно избавляйтесь от ненужных материалов. Удаляйте дубликаты и старые документы, которыми никогда не пользовались. Не загружайте каждое вложение, которое вам присылают в сообщениях электронной почты. Например, прежде чем импортировать на ПК фотографии, удалите все нечеткие, смазанные, неудачные снимки.
  • Имена файлов должны быть подробными и однотипными. Представим ситуацию: вы ищете работу и должны срочно отправить резюме по указанному адресу. Быстро открываете нужную папку и… обнаруживаете файлы resume.doc, resume1.docx и resume2.docx. Ну вот, теперь придется просматривать каждый документ и «вычислять», который из них является последней версией. Используйте в именах ключевые слова, например resume-2014-01-05.docx или resume-2014-programmer.doc, тогда нужные файлы будут видны сразу. Да и найти их будет гораздо проще.
  • Не создавайте разветвленную систему каталогов с миллионом подпапок, мы ведь хотим упростить доступ к файлам, а не усложнить его. Главное — не сбрасывать все файлы в одну папку «Документы», раздувая ее до невообразимых размеров. Создавайте отдельные папки только для основных типов файлов или, например, для документов, которые нужны чаще всего.
  • Новые файлы сразу же помещайте в правильную папку — всегда следуйте этому правилу! Нажав кнопку «Сохранить» или «Скачать», указывайте правильный путь для файлов данного типа, отдельно сохраняя музыку, фотографии, документы и т. д. Это должно войти в привычку, тогда на вашем ПК всегда будет порядок.
  • Используйте ярлыки. Например, вы часто открываете таблицу планирования бюджета, загружаете музыку в один и тот же каталог на накопителе для резервного копирования. Создайте для этого файла или папки отдельный ярлык на рабочем столе. Так вы сможете хранить объект в выбранном расположении, упростив его поиск по дате или ключевому слову, и при этом получать к нему доступ одним щелчком.

Когда контент упорядочен, намного легче находить нужные файлы и просматривать их на любом устройстве с помощью таких приложений, как Seagate Media App. Эта программа автоматически сортирует файлы по типу, позволяя запускать фильмы, просматривать фотографии, слушать музыку и работать с документами.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Your computer is full of junk, and it’s not just your computer, it’s all the parts of your digital life. Your web browser will have bookmarks that you no longer use; maybe even bookmarked websites that no longer exist. You’ve probably got a computer desktop full of files that you no longer need and probably can’t even remember what some of those files were for. This doesn’t even include all the accounts that you may have created online for all those services that you no longer use, but still get email for.

This Lifehack Lesson will help you get your digital organization system in shape and cleanup all the mess that you’ve accumulated on your PC and online. It’s a Spring cleaning lesson for your computer. This lesson is free for the first 7 days, after which; to subscribe to the lesson will cost only $1.99. All other lessons will cost $1.99 too.

Here’s an excerpt from this lesson

When it comes to being organized in the modern world there is a lot more to it them just carrying a stylish day planner and making sure that you have all of your appointments in line for the week. There is a lot more information being thrown at all of us. Some of it is relevant and a lot of it is not. Does that mean that you are destined to either succumb to the digital overload or live your life in seclusion from technology? Of course not! Today, you are going to learn how to organize your digital life, and make your way from virtual clutter to a realistic and organized system that will help you for years to come.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

In the digital age, we no longer ask ourselves if we should organize our digital images. Instead, we ask ourselves if we know the best way how to organize digital photos.

Uncluttered digital photo storage is soothing, efficient and important. It helps you find the right images without any stress or hassle. There are a lot of different ways to clean up your digital image storage, believe it or not. Make sure you’re following an optimized system. In this article, we’ll discuss five unique strategies to make the process easier.

1. Create transparent folders and file naming systems

Think of your digital organizational tasks the same way you think of physical organization. For example, when you pack items from a house into boxes, you label the box with very distinct terms. This helps you find and sort your items in the future. Your digital photos should be no different. Think of your computer folders as real life boxes and name them things that are specific to the photos stored inside.

File naming should be handled in a similar fashion. Come up with ways to best name files and do so with future retrieval in mind. For example, if you took vacation photographs in Hawaii, name every photo from this set ‘Hawaii family’, ‘Hawaii beach’, ‘Hawaii surf’ and etc. Then place them into a folder specific to your Hawaii vacation. This ensures all future searches and sharing of these types of photos is simple.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Create a structure for your digital folders.

2. Implement metadata management

Metadata is information about a file – in this case about an image file. It allows users to search for images based on extensive keywords. For example, if you’re trying to find photos on your computer or smartphone that contain dogs, a search for related terms like ‘pet’, ‘sit’, ‘growl’ and ‘bark’ could retrieve them. The power of metadata extends further than just a few tags on photos, as well. It also allows users to find images based on author, date and other specific bits of information.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Metadata is a key to organizing photos.

Metadata management helps instantly locate and retrieve stored images no matter how vast the photo library. It also adds information to images that aren’t automatically assigned keywords, such as dates, sizes and other important descriptors. It allows users to promptly recall specific uploaded photos with a search using the designated keywords. Overall, the use of metadata automation and other tools cleans up digital image storage.

3. Utilize auto tagging software

Building upon the power of metadata, auto tagging software labels every image file you put onto your computer. This automates the keywording process and organizes your image storage. Auto tagging software works hand-in-hand with digital asset management as well. As artificial intelligence continues to grow, the amount of things machines can do cannot be understated. If you’re individually tagging images manually, you’re lacking serious efficacy that an AI system could bring.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Automatic tagging adds keywords to images.

Auto tagging also ensures photos in an image library are labeled correctly. This enables users to quickly find images based on details of the photo. Files without citation are unusable so adapt an auto tagging system with image recognition to boost the functionality of your image repository.

4. Take advantage of cloud storage systems

Cloud storage offers users a way to manage their digital photos in online servers rather than on a hard drive. Furthermore, they have evolved to be more than just a place to dump files. Instead, they are now comprehensive systems to organize digital photos for future access. The business-oriented digital asset management is one example of cutting-edge cloud image storage systems to consider.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Online storage is key to saving space for images.

Cloud storage not only frees up physical space on your computer, it also is a great way to sort digital photos for quick retrieval. Cloud systems are designed to ensure users have immediate access to all their image files at any time. For users concerned about private photos, such as family images, the cloud might not be their first choice. In this case, they should consider an offline alternative, such as storage hardware.

5. Manage offline storage hardware

An interesting approach to organize photos is an external hard drive. Diversifying your storage tools is beneficial and a physical drive presents interesting safeguard potential for images. An external drive has large storage space and is a convenient backup or alternative to cloud systems. Each drive is suited for album creation, a way to personally organize photos into the manner of your liking. A drive ensures capability to view organized photo albums in case internet access is unavailable.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

An external hard drive can organize images during internet outages.

An external storage drive is a great way to keep sensitive images off a shared computer. It also allows users to avoid potential security issues of cloud storage with their private photos. Due to lack of automated sorting, users who choose an offline drive for their photos should implement a folder naming system to keep images accessible.

There are a lot of different ways to organize digital photos and plenty of tools to streamline the process. Approach your individual image storing techniques with an open mind and explore all available options with an inventive point of view.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and DAM Industry Expert | Canto

Casey is a content management and branding expert who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.

Keeping your electronic documents organized can be quite a chore in today’s “wired” world.

In addition to storing documents locally on desktops, laptops or mobile devices more and more businesses are using the cloud for basic business applications and file storage.

Further complicating the storage issue is the need for many businesses to share documents between employees. Within an office, this is typically accomplished by using a file server or network attached storage device (NAS).  

If shared mobile access is required, documents can be stored in the cloud and shared by assigning access permissions.

The result of all this can be a file management nightmare with some of a person’s documents stored in the cloud and some locally, and even individual documents stored only in one place or the other.

Organization Is the Key to Electronic File Management

Wherever the documents are stored it is important to keep them organized and up-to-date. The goal of electronic file management is to ensure that you can find what you’re looking for, even if you’re looking for it years after its creation.

Most business folks have at one time or another been in the embarrassing position of having a customer call and not being able to quickly locate the relevant invoice or other important customer documents. Equally annoying is scrambling around at year-end trying to find documents pertaining to company accounts for the accountant or even worse, the taxman.

Proper organization of digital documents is especially critical in a shared environment – if one of your employees is absent (temporarily or permanently!) you should be able to easily locate any documents created or managed by that person.

The potential loss of data issues with disgruntled, departing employees is one more reason to protect your business data.

These file management tips will help you keep your files accessible:

1. Use the Default Installation Folders for Program Files

Use the default file locations when installing application programs. Under Windows, by convention application program files reside under the (Drive Letter:)->Program Files directory. Installing applications elsewhere is confusing and unnecessary.

2. One Place for All Documents

Place all documents under a single “root” folder. For a single user in a Windows environment, the default location is the My Documents folder.  

In a file sharing environment try to do the same. Create a single root folder (called “Shared Documents” for example) and store all documents in subfolders inside the root folder. Having a single location for all electronic documents makes it easier to find things and to run backups and archives.

3. Create Folders in a Logical Hierarchy

These are the drawers of your computer’s filing cabinet, so to speak. Use plain language to name your folders; you don’t want to be looking at this list of folders in the future and wondering what “TFK” or whatever other interesting abbreviation you invented means.

4. Nest Folders Within Folders

Create other folders within these main folders as need arises. For instance, a folder called “Invoices” might contain folders called “2018”, “2017” and “2016”. A folder named for a client might include the folders “customer data” and “correspondence”. The goal is to have every file in a folder rather than having a bunch of orphan files listed.

Do not create complex, deeply-layered folder structures. Wherever possible use descriptive file names instead.

5. Follow the File Naming Conventions

Some operating systems (such as Unix) do not allow spaces in file or folder names, so avoid this if your computing environment is mixed.   Instead, use the underscores as a delimiter (e.g. Doe_John_Proposal.doc.) Other characters such as / ? < > \ : * | ” ^ are also prohibited in file or folder names under Windows.  

Use descriptive file names for easy identification and retrieval but don’t go overboard – file/path names have length limits which vary between operating systems.

Under Windows the maximum full path length for a file (e.g. the drive letter + folder names + file name) is 260 characters.   Use common abbreviations wherever possible, such as Jan for January or Corp for Corporation.

6. Be Specific

Give electronic files logical, specific names and include dates in file names if possible. The goal when naming files is to be able to tell what the file is about without having to open it and look. So if the document is a letter to a customer reminding him that payment is overdue, call it something like “overdue_20180115”; rather than something like “letter”. How will you know who the letter is to without opening it?

If you are sharing files via email or portable devices you may want to have the file name include more specific information, since the folder information will not be included with the shared file.

For example, if your document resides in My Documents\Invoices\2017\Customers\Doe_John_20180416.doc and the file is shared or emailed all the recipient will see is the Doe_John_20170416.doc and may not be able to tell that the file is a customer invoice without opening it.

7. File as You Go

The best time to file a document is when you first create it. So get in the habit of using the “Save As” dialogue box to file your document as well as name it, putting it in the right place in the first place.

8. Order Your Files for Your Convenience

If there are folders or files that you use a lot, force them to the top of the file list by renaming them with a ! or an AA at the beginning of the file name.

9. Cull Your Files Regularly

Sometimes what’s old is obvious as in the example of the folder named “Invoices” above. If it’s not, keep your folders uncluttered by clearing out the old files.

Do not delete business related files unless you are absolutely certain that you will never need the file again. Instead, in your main collection of folders under your root folder, create a folder called “Old” or “Inactive” and move old files into it when you come across them.

10. Back up Your Files Regularly

Whether you’re copying your files onto another drive or onto tape, it’s important to set up and follow a regular back up regimen.

Good File Management Makes Finding What You Want Easy

Managing electronic documents should be part of an overall document management strategy for your business. A proper document management plan should include all aspects of handling documents, including storage, retrieval, backups, and security.

The search function is a wonderful thing but it will never match the ease of being able to go directly to a folder or file. If you follow these file management tips consistently, even if you don’t know where something is, you know where it should be – a huge advantage when it comes to finding what you’re looking for. Good file management practices will ​save your business time and money.

Most leaders understand the urgency of activating the digital enterprise—85 percent believe being digital is important for success, in fact, according to Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review research

Most leaders understand the urgency of activating the digital organization—85 percent believe being digital is important for success, in fact, according to Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review research.

Explore content

Understanding your digital DNA

When it comes to digital enablement, the days of incremental improvements are over. It’s time to do something big—something more than moving systems to the cloud or adopting tools that let employees work when, where, and how they want to.

Activating the digital enterprise: A sink-or-swim moment for today’s enterprise brings together insights from Deloitte’s research with MIT Sloan Management Review, as well as our work with clients across industries to understand the role of human resources (HR) in digital transformation. We have identified 23 traits that comprise an organization’s “digital DNA”—the qualities that digitally mature organizations share.

These digital DNA traits include an organization’s ability to be intentionally collaborative, continuously innovate, “democratize” information, and operate with morphing team structures—to name a few. Understanding your digital DNA is essential to digital enablement and becoming a truly digital organization—and it’s just one of several drivers that can help you accelerate your activation.

Activation drivers

Work reimagined
Reimagine what work will look like in the future and how it will fundamentally change as advanced technologies are incorporated. This entails redesigning work activities and processes to determine the best combinations of automation (e.g., robotics, cognitive) and human skills. High-volume, data-intensive, and repetitive tasks, as well as those that are physically dangerous, transition away from humans. Humans are freed up to focus on value add/strategic activities and those that provide better connections to customers, using character traits that automation is unable to match, such as empathy.

Network + leadership
Drive work through network-based teams that are cross-functional and agile with limited hierarchy. Doing so will require different leadership skills. What makes a leader “great” remains unchanged. A great leader, for example, knows that strong influence is imperative. Before, a leader typically used influence to persuade stakeholders to support initiatives or ideas. In the new digital context, a great leader will need to persuade skeptics of ideas that are unproven and that carry new risks.

Open talent workforce
Driving the future of work means introducing new talent categories in a more open talent economy. The vision includes salaried, “gig,” and ecosystem partners working together seamlessly. It also requires new ways of looking at workforce sourcing, performance, engagement, and rewards. Organizations should understand which skills to build, buy, or rent. And they should drive digital learning experiences that help build workers’ capabilities and allow them to develop along a 21st century career path.

Connected experience
Understand how you can drive a Simply Irresistible™ experience for the workforce that combines virtual and physical workspaces as well as digital tools that can drive productivity and deliver a consumer-grade experience for all workers.

Putting these drivers to work and enabling the new digital organization requires a high-impact HR partnership and a marketing approach for managing the evolution. To do that, organizations should have two things:

Digital HR
HR should drive your evolution and help the business define each component of the digital organization. HR also should be a “digital first” business that shapes the consumer-grade experiences and cultural behaviors that will help the organization thrive.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Last month, I discussed the general parameters of a shared drive cleanup (remediation) and some of the problem areas you may face. This month, I’ll walk through a typical remediation decision tree with rules that may be applied. Shared drive remediation is as much art as it is science; a good problem-solving mindset will be important as you work through your content. Today, I focus on using available shared drive metadata. While content analysis can be useful or necessary, it usually requires technology tools.

In all cases, the level of risk and the value of the information will be key drivers to decisions made regarding that content. Legal opinions usually lean toward minimizing high-risk content by removing duplicates and strict adherence to retention schedule and policies. For government, reducing the volume of content reduces the effort and cost of meeting open records requests, and for government and commercial enterprises, shared drive remediation simplifies information governance and reduces costs (in particular, e-discovery costs)—a strong win for any information technology (IT) or records department.

The general flow of content remediation looks like this:

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Before starting any remediation process, be sure you have an up-to-date records retention schedule (Hint: The more condensed and concise the schedule, the easier the remediation tasks), a records destruction review and approval process, a list of legal holds in place and buy-in from the owner(s) of the targeted content. If you plan to migrate content to an enterprise content management (ECM) system, SharePoint or simply reorganize it, you will want to develop a functional classification and link it to the retention schedule. I’ll address classifications in a later post, but simply stated, it is an enterprise taxonomy or information architecture that simplifies and improves findability and life cycle management of content.

Also, designate a quarantine area on the file share to locate likely redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content or content that you suspect has personally identifiable information (PII) or other sensitive content. For now, it’s better to quarantine most content rather than delete it. Any reference to deleting content in this article will always assume you are following your policy.

First, select the target content area (folder tree) using these rules:

  • Temp files, thumbs DB or system-generated files.
  • Personal content: Wedding photos, music, videos, etc. can be deleted or quarantined, depending on your use policy and how nice you’re feeling that day.
  • Orphaned content: Personal subject folders—the digital equivalent of the desk drawer—for staff that have moved on. For example, Betty worked in finance as accounts payable manager, but Betty left the company in 2002, so the most recent “date accessed” attribute is 2002. Betty had no responsibilities that would require a retention of more than seven years. If none of the SMEs have searched the content and legal and records management agree Betty’s files have no value, then delete (or quarantine).
  • Duplicates: Not all duplicates are bad duplicates, but within the same folder structure, they usually have no value. Most common duplicates are “copy of” or Word and PDF rendition. A determination will need to be made on actions to take—delete, leave as is, move to a “copy” folder, etc. In general, if there are multiple duplicates with Word and PDF version, only the most recent Word version should be kept. If final versions (e.g., PDF) are intermingled with drafts, consider creating a “final version” folder, move final version to it and then clean up drafts according to your rules—it will simplify findability and eliminate version ambiguity.
  • Review document types: Sort each directory by “type” attribute and then scroll through looking for extensions that don’t belong (e.g., EXE, TXT, MPGx, EPS, ILL, DAT, ZIP). The invalid extension list will vary depending on the business area and business processes. For instance, you’d expect EPS files in marketing but probably not in accounts payable.

Second-pass remediation considers more complex rules. The rules will depend on how consistently content has been identified in folder taxonomy (file plan) and file names.

1. Case and project files (could also be “folders” that represent aggregate documentation, such as a contract folder, personnel folder, etc.) are handled similarly to other folders. It is particularly important to de-duplicate, eliminate drafts and version and be sure the “final” folder follows a standard folder taxonomy (work breakdown structure or file plan).

2. Folder names with date information where date information exceeds retention: Typically, folder name with a designated year, such as 1995 Invoices or 1999 Applicants. Working with the SME, delete, archive or quarantine folders exceeding the records retention policy.

3. As you review the content, other obvious content assessment triggers will present themselves— follow the same rules of date analysis and retention rules and then take action.

In summary, the rules you use must consider content value, risk and the cost/effort required to remediate a content area. Remember, each organizations’ decision tree will reflect the goals and outcomes you wish to achieve.

As someone with a lot of Apple devices, I recently decided to take the plunge and consolidate my data on a local NAS server. Once setup I had a shared drive for all of my devices. It was a great learning experience overall, but there was definitely some hair pulling moments. I want to use my experience to help anyone out there who is thinking of going the NAS route. Hopefully, in doing so, you can save your hair.

Free up a NAS and organize your remote storage

Before we get into my shared network drive tips, let’s start with the most basic question…

What is a NAS drive?

NAS stands for Network-Attached Storage. In plain language, a NAS is a centralized file storage device that other devices and computers can remotely connect to. The NAS is a shared network that allows these multiple devices to access and share large amounts of data.

Why did I get a NAS drive?

There are many good reasons to set up a NAS. For example, being able to access shared files across all your devices easily, or the devices within a family or office is a real time saver. Doing something fun like creating a library of music on your NAS, which can then be accessed from iTunes on any of your devices, is also really rewarding and convenient.

But personally, I was most interested in NAS as a backup solution. I’m interested in media, so I have a lot of big files, which meant stacks of external hard drives lying around. Some would get lost. I’d forget where specific files were. It was a nightmare.

I tried backing up to the cloud but again, the file sizes made it a challenge, and I had security concerns. So I got a NAS and set it up with redundancy in mind. Redundancy means that when a single drive inside the NAS dies, the content is never lost because it is mirrored on the other drives.

A shared drive sounds great. What’s the problem?

When consolidating a lot of files to a central location, you create the possibility of organizational chaos. Since you’re probably interested in a shared drive to better organize your digital life, it can be frustrating when faced with this very issue.

In the hope of saving you this frustration, below are my three biggest tips to organize and clean up your NAS drive.

Duplicates – NAS problem #1

One early example was after backing up photos from my Mac, my Macbook, my iPhone and my iPad. I felt pleased to have all my photos in one location, but I soon realized that I was creating mountains of duplicate photos.

I looked at my work folders. Same thing. Music folders? Yup. Video folders? Of course.

In the past, when cleaning up duplicate files on NAS, I’ve manually identified the duplicates and deleted them. But given how many files had more than one version now, I really couldn’t see an alternative beyond spending an entire weekend cleaning up the NAS drive by hand.

So I found my solution – Gemini 2: The duplicate file finder. This app is truly a life saver. Not only did it find hundreds of duplicate photos and other file types, but it also let me quickly choose which files to keep and which files to remove.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

At one point I accidentally deleted a photo that I did want in two locations, but Gemini 2 knows the dumping of duplicates is so fun that you may get carried away and make a mistake. So it even has an undelete feature, which I used to resurrect the photo. Sure, you can download and try Gemini 2 for free.

Another feature lets you find similar photos on all your storage drives, like five photos of your sleeping cat that look identical to the naked eye. I haven’t used this for now, but if space ever becomes an issue, it’s nice to know I have the option.

Create a Shared Music Library – NAS Problem #2

I mentioned earlier that I was able to set up a music library on my NAS, so that I could play my music from any device on the network. It also allowed me to free up space on my overflowing Macbook, which improved my Mac’s performance.

Successfully moving my iTunes library to my NAS took me a little while to figure it out, but you don’t have to make my missteps because below is are the steps I used to make my audio dream a reality.

  1. Close iTunes.
  2. Copy your entire iTunes folder (in the Music folder on your Mac) to the NAS.
  3. Hold Shift and launch iTunes. Continue holding Shift until prompted to locate or create a new library.
  4. Point iTunes to the iTunesLibrary.itl file on the NAS.
  5. Close iTunes.
  6. Move the existing iTunes folder on the Mac to another location or simply rename it.
  7. Launch iTunes and make sure everything is in order.
  8. Play your favorite tunes!

Important Note #1 – Time Machine only creates local backups, so your new iTunes library file and media on your NAS won’t be backed up automatically. Be sure to set up a new backup process for these files.

Important Note #2 – If your network is slow you may experience some lag when making changes to files in iTunes.

Low on Space – NAS Problem #3

I setup a NAS, in part, to have more space. But once I consolidated data from all my devices, and external drives, the massive amounts of space were chewed up so quickly!

I knew there were a lot of files that I could lose to make more free space on my network drive, but once again it seemed like it was going to take ages to look through each folder manually. I had such luck with Gemini that I decided to look for a solution again.

Here CleanMyMac X could help me. Its main purpose is to optimize Macs by clearing out junk files and memory-hogging apps. It has a tool called Large & Old Files that discovers what’s wasting space on storage.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Simply get CleanMyMac X to scan any shared folder or even the entire shared network, and it will return results for you to review. On the review screen, you can sort the files by size or when they were last used. This was a great way to identify the significant space-wasters easily.

For the ultimately shared drive cleanup, you can use the app to move whatever you want to the trash, to another location, or delete them permanently.

I found old work project files and within minutes I had cleared away almost 1TB.

A Shared Drive Doesn’t Have To Be NASty

If you’re on the fence about network sharing, let me push you off that fence. Having a NAS shared drive will connect your digital world, make everything easier, and keep your data safe. Shared drive organization can be a bit intimidating but follow my tips, and you’ll have a clean and organized NAS at the center of your shared network.

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway.” I love this quote from organizational theorist Geoffrey Moore because of the implications it portrays with such simplicity. We have all seen the consequences of deer roaming highways. As digital leaders, we’d rather not see our organizations become roadkill. That is why we invest large sums into advanced information systems that collect, store and analyze our organizations’ data.

But collecting data isn’t the goal; it’s the means to a specific end. The real opportunity is customer intimacy. How well can we get to know our customers? How will we leverage this knowledge to improve their experience and satisfaction?

Getting To The Right Data: Quality Over Quantity

In our quest for numbers, there must be some method to the madness. If it’s to be of service to our organization, data must be more than just prolific; it needs to be useful. It should provide opportunities for strategic insight and support data-driven decisions. This is where the quality of data comes into play.

I’m the co-founder and president of a data-driven company, and from day one we were measuring everything, from number of views to number of clicks, and this helped us tremendously. We started taking the same approach for improving our sales and customer success processes, but we weren’t able to rely on the data in these areas at first because of lack of standardization.

This is why clean data is of paramount importance. Without it, leadership can’t trust they’re making sound, strategic decisions. Once an organization has a dirty data problem, the mess that follows isn’t pretty. Poor data quality inevitably leads to dissatisfied customers, poor order to cash and inability to forecast earnings.

Organizations are right to invest in master data management (MDM) solutions for the purpose of data cleansing, transformation and integration practices. Some data scientists even suggest that they really act as “digital janitors” (paywall), cleaning up data before it can be analyzed. However, relying on MDMs — and even data analysts — is like hiring cleaners to come mop your muddy floor rather than just removing your shoes at the door. Where is the dirty data coming from? How do we cleanse it and make it useful?

Taking A Closer Look At The Systems Handling Data

Enterprise organizations invest in a variety of information systems. All can be categorized into two main groups:

• Information systems that examine existing data, but the data is created automatically, such as via a customer journey funnel on a website

• Information systems in which the data is created by the user

In the first group are analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics or any number of embedded programs, as well as business intelligence (BI) systems. These systems observe, offer analysis and garner insights based on data that already exists in various systems. These platforms are able to extract and cross-reference data from different systems and present the findings in a visual dashboard.

The second group is made up of platforms that serve as data-production sites — your CRMs, HCMs and ERPs. A CRM has a component of user data. Salespeople input customer data into the system, which generates reports for tracking KPIs, identifying trends and forecasting earnings.

The Problem With Poor User Adoption

When a user is not competent using a platform examining existing data, it can result in both frustration and miscalculations. Even while the data in the system is obviously correct, the user may pull their numbers from the wrong place, input the wrong dates or otherwise misuse the platform.

This, of course, hurts productivity and increases user frustration. But most importantly, it may lead to inaccurate data at the final layer.

Analytics platforms, however, are where things can get really dirty. With the second group of information systems, the user adoption problem is twofold. It consists of all the same adoption issues as the first group, and, additionally, data input in the system determines the quality of the data going out.

If the user inputs in the wrong information, all subsequent conclusions will be skewed. One mistake not only affects that one data point but countless other data points as well. For example, if a salesperson is not adept in using the CRM or doesn’t follow data procedures, they may not know how to accurately input the probability of closing the deal. This affects probability forecasting.

How To Examine Your Data Culture

Software provides competitive advantage only in so much as its users know how to use it, and a preemptive look at the data culture and system usage in your organization may simplify (if not eliminate) large-scale data cleaning projects.

Information systems promise superior business outcomes — better insights, easier reporting, more robust data structure. However, just as with any complex tool, a novice will not wield the same power as a skilled professional. At the end of the day, the platform’s users influence its success or failure. Here’s how to get the most of your data and mitigate poor user adoption:

• Know Who Is Using The Platform. Your users are the ones with their hands on the data. Understanding the data journey within your organization is critical to managing the flow of data and keeping it clean and consistent.

Establish Skills, Tools And Processes. Put as much emphasis on using the right software as making the software you have work for you. Training is important, but so is continual daily support. Do your employees have the guidance and reinforcement needed to master the information systems they use every day? Are there processes in place to maintain data accuracy?

Create And Implement A Comprehensive Adoption Plan For New Analytics Systems. Whether onboarding a new system or retraining employees on an existing system where technical skills are lacking, an adoption strategy is necessary. Without alignment of employee actions and organizational goals, the entire data project could be jeopardized.

When using data, most people agree that your insights and analysis are only as good as the data you are using. Essentially, garbage data in is garbage analysis out. Data cleaning, also referred to as data cleansing and data scrubbing, is one of the most important steps for your organization if you want to create a culture around quality data decision-making.

What is data cleaning?

Data cleaning is the process of fixing or removing incorrect, corrupted, incorrectly formatted, duplicate, or incomplete data within a dataset. When combining multiple data sources, there are many opportunities for data to be duplicated or mislabeled. If data is incorrect, outcomes and algorithms are unreliable, even though they may look correct. There is no one absolute way to prescribe the exact steps in the data cleaning process because the processes will vary from dataset to dataset. But it is crucial to establish a template for your data cleaning process so you know you are doing it the right way every time.

What is the difference between data cleaning and data transformation?

Data cleaning is the process that removes data that does not belong in your dataset. Data transformation is the process of converting data from one format or structure into another. Transformation processes can also be referred to as data wrangling, or data munging, transforming and mapping data from one “raw” data form into another format for warehousing and analyzing. This article focuses on the processes of cleaning that data.

How do you clean data?

While the techniques used for data cleaning may vary according to the types of data your company stores, you can follow these basic steps to map out a framework for your organization.

Step 1: Remove duplicate or irrelevant observations

Remove unwanted observations from your dataset, including duplicate observations or irrelevant observations. Duplicate observations will happen most often during data collection. When you combine data sets from multiple places, scrape data, or receive data from clients or multiple departments, there are opportunities to create duplicate data. De-duplication is one of the largest areas to be considered in this process. Irrelevant observations are when you notice observations that do not fit into the specific problem you are trying to analyze. For example, if you want to analyze data regarding millennial customers, but your dataset includes older generations, you might remove those irrelevant observations. This can make analysis more efficient and minimize distraction from your primary target—as well as creating a more manageable and more performant dataset.

Step 2: Fix structural errors

Structural errors are when you measure or transfer data and notice strange naming conventions, typos, or incorrect capitalization. These inconsistencies can cause mislabeled categories or classes. For example, you may find “N/A” and “Not Applicable” both appear, but they should be analyzed as the same category.

Step 3: Filter unwanted outliers

Often, there will be one-off observations where, at a glance, they do not appear to fit within the data you are analyzing. If you have a legitimate reason to remove an outlier, like improper data-entry, doing so will help the performance of the data you are working with. However, sometimes it is the appearance of an outlier that will prove a theory you are working on. Remember: just because an outlier exists, doesn’t mean it is incorrect. This step is needed to determine the validity of that number. If an outlier proves to be irrelevant for analysis or is a mistake, consider removing it.

Step 4: Handle missing data

You can’t ignore missing data because many algorithms will not accept missing values. There are a couple of ways to deal with missing data. Neither is optimal, but both can be considered.

  1. As a first option, you can drop observations that have missing values, but doing this will drop or lose information, so be mindful of this before you remove it.
  2. As a second option, you can input missing values based on other observations; again, there is an opportunity to lose integrity of the data because you may be operating from assumptions and not actual observations.
  3. As a third option, you might alter the way the data is used to effectively navigate null values.

Step 5: Validate and QA

At the end of the data cleaning process, you should be able to answer these questions as a part of basic validation:

  • Does the data make sense?
  • Does the data follow the appropriate rules for its field?
  • Does it prove or disprove your working theory, or bring any insight to light?
  • Can you find trends in the data to help you form your next theory?
  • If not, is that because of a data quality issue?

False conclusions because of incorrect or “dirty” data can inform poor business strategy and decision-making. False conclusions can lead to an embarrassing moment in a reporting meeting when you realize your data doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Before you get there, it is important to create a culture of quality data in your organization. To do this, you should document the tools you might use to create this culture and what data quality means to you.

How to cleanup your digital organization system

Organizing electronic files is important because much of the information we handle these days has become electronic. Even though the paperless office is still a long way off, setting up a system for organizing electronic files is very important. Unfortunately, few people have a system in place for non-paper items and it all becomes become virtual clutter. However, organizing electronic files isn’t as complicated as it seems. It’s easy to set up an organizing system on your computer with just a few simple steps.

Mirror Your Paper Files

With paper files, the rule is to start with a broad category that you can break into sub-categories – the same is true when organizing electronic files. If you engage in online banking and bill-pay, set up a main folder called “Finances” – then create sub-folders for each account’s statements.

If you have a business, you can pull up customer information in seconds if you have a main folder called “Clients”, sub-folders for each, then individual files for billing statements, project notes, and email communications. It’s that easy!

Create a Naming Convention

When you store multiple drafts of the same document, a clear way of naming files will tell you which version you are looking at. Instead of calling the file “Johnson_Proposal”, name it “Johnson_Proposal_6-8-08”, signifying the date of the last edit. If several people are working on the same document, include a name or initials at the end so you know who made those updates – “Johnson_Proposal_6-8-08_RFC”. As an added bonus, your files will be in alphabetical, then numeric order when you search for them.

Avoid the Urge to Print

Many people defeat the whole idea of “paperless” by automatically printing every email, memo, and electronic document they receive. If you don’t have a good reason for printing it out, save it on your computer and refer back to it electronically.

Clean Out Regularly

Just like paper files, it’s easy for electronic folders to become overstuffed. Once or twice a year, go through your computer files and purge anything that has become outdated, obsolete, or irrelevant to your life. And ask yourself “why” before you save it – especially with email. You don’t need to keep every email notice and solicitation – just save those emails that you will refer back to in the future.

Back Up Regularly

It goes without saying that when you store important information on your computer, you need a back up. At least once a week, save all of your files to an external hard drive, disk, or online backup service. Don’t forget the files in your contact manager, bookkeeping program, and any other software you use regularly! This way, if your computer crashes or something happens to your physical equipment, you always have a copy to fall back on.