Desktop Data Management

The complexity of modern organizations requires their employees to manage an ever-increasing flow of information. Many trends combine to that effect, among which fast growth, under-staffing, inappropriate tools or poor procedures. The purpose of this blog is to create a discussion around all the ways that managing information can be improved from a desktop worker’s standpoint – if we only take the time to sit back and think rather than jumping right in armed with our usual tools and mindset.

I’ll use the term desktop data management to refer to these practices.

Few online resources seem devoted to data management from a desktop worker’s standpoint, with most searches on the subject quickly ending up in data modeling or “information technology” territory. Nonetheless, even when data management isn’t your primary job, it is usually in your own self-interest to approach it with care. You may, after all, be subject to external forces that have made you the (however unwilling) owner of some piece of data critical to your company. If you think you’re too busy to consider something as esoteric as data management, a lot of your unproductive time in the office (no offense) will probably involve looking up information, matching lists from different sources or doing some other kind of repetitive, error-prone work. Chances are that better data management could spare you time and frustration.

Robust data management relies on down-to-earth principles, not on a particular piece of technology. I am convinced that the broad application of a few simple ideas can have a significant impact on an organization’s productivity, facilitating the exchange of critical information among coworkers.

Desktop data management problems are real-world problems, not theoretical entertainment for “computer people”. They address data as a valuable resource. Relegating data management to a low priority has a hugely detrimental impact on quality and efficiency. It results in anything from lower service levels to wasted energy, human conflicts or a mix of all three – and more. On the other hand, treating data management with the care it deserves produces a snowball effect, revealing previously unthinkable opportunities at a fraction of the cost you would have imagined. This is as true for a large online retailer processing thousands of orders daily, as it is true for you as an individual, sending a mailing to a few dozen customers or producing monthly reports for your company’s headquarters.

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