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Behind Every Data Problem…

August 11, 2015 | By John Donlon

  • Behind every data problem, there’s a process problem – and behind every process problem, there’s likely a people problem
  • First, think about the processes in place to bring data into your systems and manipulate it once it’s been captured
  • Once these processes are identified, think next about who performs those activities

My kids aren’t the neatest creatures on the face of the earth. Okay, that’s not exactly a shocker – after all, whose kids are neat?

Still, that is little solace to my wife, who gets irritated every time she walks into a room and finds a pile of discarded clothes, a leftover lunch that was sloppily consumed and abandoned – presumably for woodland creatures to find later that night – or a post-eruption volcano of Legos underfoot. Unfailingly, she curses the mess and the scoundrels who caused it and spares no one her… um… passion.

Meanwhile, whether she realizes it or not, my wife is exemplifying the same sort of advanced analysis that sales and marketing operations professionals should apply when digging into data issues (save perhaps for the yelling). How’s that for a silky-smooth transition?

Here’s the thing: Behind every data problem, there’s a process problem. And behind every process problem, there’s likely a people problem.

Every contact in your marketing automation platform (MAP) who is no longer at that company, every duplicate account that’s floating around your sales force administration (SFA) system, every opportunity record that’s missing the connection to its marketing touches – it all comes down to process issues.  At the end of the day, it’s either people who execute those processes directly, or people who set up the systems that perform those activities automatically.

Therefore, when you’re unpacking the multitude of data issues facing your organization, think first about the processes in place to bring data into your systems and manipulate it once it’s been captured:

  • Contact form submissions
  • List uploads
  • Manual logging of account activity
  • Syncing with other systems

With those identified, think next about who performs those activities:

  • Prospects/customers
  • Field marketing
  • Sales reps
  • Marketing or sales operations

These lists are just examples of what you might find, but this mapping is the beginning of a more rigorous root-cause analysis you can perform to figure out where data goes bad and why.

So, the next time you recoil in agony from stepping barefoot on yet another misplaced Lego brick, let yourself count to 10 and cool down, and then remember: There’s a better way of understanding how that brick got there – and how you can be sure that next time it’s put back properly into its bin.

John Donlon

John Donlon is a Senior Research Director for Marketing Operations at SiriusDecisions. A recognized thought leader in marketing operations, he has over 20 years of experience in information technology, process improvement, and measurement and reporting. Follow John on Twitter at @SiriusJD.

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