An important concept in database management is data normalization. The practice of streamlining and simplifying data can extend beyond numbers in a database and apply to all aspects of business information, including how documents are managed. In this quick guide, we will provide an overview of the concept of data normalization and how it can help your business.
What Is Data Normalization?
Data normalization is a process whereby data is standardized. With proper data normalization, data will become consistent across all records and fields. If data normalization is done properly, it becomes much easier to sort through data, conduct lead generation, and develop more accurate segmentation. Data normalization can also reduce redundant, duplicate data.
(Sometimes, it’s important to “denormalize” data, which can lead to expanded searchability and purposeful redundancy.)
Here’s an example of data that could benefit from data normalization:
Let’s say you have a sales database or CRM where the same company has multiple records because each salesperson added a separate contact in a new entry. This might lead to problems where new team members might miss important client history because they didn’t realize that other company records were available.
Data normalization would find a way to remove redundant entries on this company and consolidate and/or connect the data in such a way that the sales reps could easily track all the communication with different company employees.
The formal data normalization process typically follows a specific, logical pattern (first normal form, second normal form, etc.) that guides the implementation of data normalization.
What Are the Benefits of Data Normalization?
Data normalization can provide many business benefits, including:
- Minimizing redundancy and duplicates: Duplicates in data can muck up a database and potentially cause errors that could negatively impact customer service and other critical business tasks.
- Increasing storage space and reducing costs: The removal of unnecessary redundant entries and the clearing of data clutter can save on data storage space…which can reduce costs significantly.
- Improving speed of data access: Normalized data is more efficient, and this speeds up the process of accessing data and information.
- Better segmentation and lead generation: With better organized data, leads can be better segmented. With the right groups set up, your team will be able to easily access information based on segments.
Data Normalization Applied to Document Management
So now that you know how data normalization happens on a database level, let’s apply the same philosophy to documents.
All businesses deal with documents and files. These documents can end up overwhelming a company if they are not properly organized, indexed, and filed. In the past, documents were maintained in filing cabinets, but these days, documents are more likely to be electronically filed.
Without the right document management system in place, electronic files can be easily misfiled, unnecessarily duplicated, or named in such a way that it’s impossible to ever find them again.
Inconsistent file name conventions can become a nightmare as documents start piling up into the hundreds or thousands.
When we take a data normalization approach to document management, we prioritize organizing documents with consistent structures and naming conventions.
On a basic level, this might include setting up specific folders and subfolders on a network to store and manage files.
However, doing this manually can become challenging as the number of files grows. Additionally, manual document management systems rely on imperfect human staff members to properly label and file documents.
For example, you may have set up a naming convention such as DEPARTMENT-SUBJECT-DATE but even that might end up being confused by employees, with some filing by DEPARTMENT-SUBJECT-DATE and others DATE-DEPARTMENT-SUBJECT or DEPARTMENT-DATE- SUBJECT and yet others SUBJECT-DEPARTMENT-DATE, etc.
Enterprise software known as a document management solution can handle this detail for you, ensuring consistency of document tracking and information.
Thus, one of the best ways to create a culture of data normalization is to implement a document management solution. An enterprise-level document management system can result in many efficiency boosts for your organization while saving costs. Documents are saved securely and accessibly from multiple devices and locations. Documents are indexed and searchable. The indexed documents can be labeled and routed based on customized rules. These are just a few of the benefits of a good document management system.
Streamline Your Data and Information with Document Management
If you are looking to improve your business with document management, CDS Office Technologies can help with our partnership with InfoDynamics. We are experts in implementing document management solutions that help boost efficiency and productivity by streamlining workflows and “normalizing” data. We offer a consultation where our expert consultants can discuss with you all aspects of your business needs and devise a customized solution.
CDS Office Technologies is a leading Managed IT solutions provider for small businesses, large businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. If you would like to take advantage of our robust document management solutions, please contact us for a consultation.