When you start to regularly conduct surveys and collect data, you’ll quickly find yourself amassing large volumes of information that need to be carefully managed. Here’s how to set up a robust data management process for your organisation.
Know where your data isIt sounds obvious, but knowing where all your survey data is stored is essential if you’re going to keep on top of it. Online survey data will naturally be stored within the platform you’ve used to collect it, but keep careful track of downloaded or exported material, as well as paper-based questionnaires and the results of telephone surveys which may have been recorded outside your main data platform. Having a complete, top-level view of your data will allow you to start making decisions about how to manage it.
Identify who needs access to data, and what they will do with itThe chances are your business holds a lot of data, not all of it obviously useful. To begin getting your house in order, discover who is currently using company survey data and what they need it for. Anything that’s not in use (or useful) may be a candidate for securely archiving or deleting. It’s useful to make a distinction between who can simply view data or reports, and who can edit, upload, delete or otherwise manipulate its content.
Map an organisational structure for data permissionsYour data management setup might require different types of organisational structures than your main management hierarchy and reporting lines. It’s worth taking a look at your chain of command and checking that you’re only giving data access permission by default to people who need it to do their jobs. Consider also granting access to supervisors and those who the data user reports into, whether via solid lines or dotted lines relationships.
Set consistent policies for data use and accessConsistency is key when it comes to managing data. Establish clear protocols for requesting and granting access to survey results, reports and analysis documents. Ideally, a specific person should be in charge of managing and updating permission lists, whether that’s the CIO or another responsible person within your company.
Check against compliance requirementsData collection has become a hot topic, particularly in Europe following the announcement of the 2018 GDPR regulation. Regulatory requirements place more responsibility on businesses than ever before when it comes to managing, protecting and obtaining permissions around customer data. Whatever the practical advantages and disadvantages of setting up a data management programme in your company, from a compliance perspective it’s likely to be a wise investment for the future.