While many companies think of data as a tool, it might be more accurate for private capital firms to think of it as a valuable asset. After all, in your data—the names, facts, figures, and other details you have been gathering for years or even decades—are relationships waiting to be formed and deals waiting to be made.
However, your success in achieving your business goals is largely dependent on the quality of that data. If you allow it to get “dirty” or outdated, you decrease your ability to make deals and raise funds.
If, on the other hand, you ensure that your data is always “clean” and current, you give your firm a competitive edge. It may be a big advantage or a small one, but if your data quality contributes to a win, it was enough of an advantage and well worth the effort required to keep your records up-to-date.
Give Your Teams the Data They Need
In order to provide your teams with the high-quality data they need to work effectively, there are four best practices you should use as you pull data into a private equity CRM solution like AIM:
1. Only import essential data.
It’s tempting to have a “more is better” mindset regarding data for your CRM. However, the reality is that anything that doesn’t bring value to your team and your processes is simply a distraction. Forcing people to sift through huge volumes of data to find the most helpful entries is counterproductive since it only slows them down. Ask yourself, “Will we actually use this data in the future?” before you import it. If the answer is, “Yes,” the follow-up question should be, “How?” If you are unsure, don’t import it.
2. Use tools for mass uploads and updates.
The more time and effort you put into getting data into your CRM and keeping it current, the more you diminish its overall value. AIM integrates with the Force.com platform, which means you can use the Salesforce Data Import Wizard to get information into your database quickly and efficiently. All you have to do is drag a spreadsheet into the tool, do a quick review/edit of the mapping, and start the import process. Similar processes are available for updating information. If you leverage them, people tasked with data management have more time to focus on other business-building initiatives. Plus, using these kinds of tools helps minimize the human error that is common with manual processes.
3. Use validation and enforce data requirements.
The best way to ensure that the data in your CRM is in the right format is to require that it be entered correctly on forms. By putting validation on form fields, you can prevent things like extra digits in phone numbers, alpha entries where numeric data is needed, etc. Also, if a particular piece of information is required in order to make a record complete, ensure the form can’t be submitted without it.
4. Delete duplicate data.
Both incorrect and duplicate data are problematic for PE firms that are trying to keep their data quality high. However, the latter can be a more subtle problem, since any of the duplicates viewed individually may look accurate. Be sure to “deduplicate” the data in your database regularly and also check any data sources you are importing so that duplicates don’t skew your numbers and adversely affect your predictions.
Improve and Maintain Data Quality
If you’ve never focused on data integrity or have let a high-quality database degrade, it will surely take some time and effort to get it back to a place where it is delivering maximum value for your firm. The same is true if you still rely on information that is scattered throughout your organization in spreadsheets, emails, and even handwritten meeting notes.
But the work to populate and maintain an advanced data repository is a wise investment in one of your most valuable assets, and one that will pay big, ongoing dividends. That is, as long as you make data quality a top priority and commit resources to manage your information properly.
See how AIM can improve the efficiency of your data management and other business processes with a single source of truth built for private capital. Request a demo today or see how firms like yours use AIM.