How Much Is Poor Data Integrity Costing You?

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How Much Is Poor Data Integrity Costing You?

Posted: 22/09/2015 12:00am

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In today’s data-centric world, the majority of businesses place an emphasis on data security but not data integrity.  Data security is a means of protecting data, via a database with security measures, from destructive forces or unwanted users gaining access to it. 

Data integrity is a less prominent concept that refers to the accuracy and consistency of the data stored in those databases.  It is a critical aspect to the design of databases, implementation, and usage of said data.  Although your data is relatively safer than in the past, how do you ensure its accuracy is maintained?  Data is used to provide insight and without proper and accurate data, that insight can be lacking in terms of projecting costs, revenue, inventory, etc.  Key findings from a Gartner study states that data quality affects overall labor productivity by as much as 20 percent.  Across any industry, data drives efficiency, profitability, and growth.  Thus, inaccurate data can be detrimental to a company’s bottom line. 

Data accuracy is a fundamental problem associated with paper invoicing.  The average time from which the work is done to when the company doing the work receives payment (Days Sales Outstanding, or DSO) is approximately 47 days according to a 2014 Ernst & Young study of working capital management.  Within this time period it is not uncommon for paper purchase orders, field tickets, or even the invoice itself to be lost or altered.  Without proper attention or management the exchange of information is not centralized and may be touched by several different employees or service providers, leaving many companies to deal with inaccurate data and misleading information.  In terms of AP processing, mismanaged files can lead to a further extended payment period as employees spend time resolving the issue caused by mismatched information. 

Not only do suppliers become anxious but companies waste additional time and money on corrections as well as lose out on potential early pay discounts.   

 

So what are the solutions?

Document Protection

There are multiple channels for safeguarding files.  Apart from an IT Department’s internal measures, there are also specific product features that can assist with this.  Vendors such as Adobe and Microsoft allow companies to put restrictions on documents including passwords, editing locks, etc.  By creating these restrictions companies are able to prevent the data from being altered by the wrong person.  Not only does this protect the companies own data but it protects that of their customers as well.    

In the same research conducted by Gartner in 2014, spending on information security is predicted to reach $76.9 billion worldwide by 2015.  According to this study, the increasing adoption of mobile, cloud, social and information (often interacting together) will drive use of new security technology and services through 2016.  It’s crucial that companies make certain that sensitive or private information is safeguarded by investing in the right technology for their needs

Creating an Auditable Chain of Custody

Most oil and gas companies use an approval chain to ensure accuracy but even with this, documents can be lost.  However, by creating a trackable chain of approvers and file handlers, it can become much easier to track down document alterations or information leaks (whether they are intentional or not).  By using a succinct tracking method (that is documented) companies can identify gaps in information or processes and ensure they are corrected or avoided.   

File Matching

Multiway matching is an incredible feature that can ensure accurate data is retained throughout thePO Post Image 1 sales cycle as well as provide specific information to allow for proper and complete budget tracking.  It is the ability to match information from multiple documents to create a succinct set of data.  Cortex offers this feature as part of their Workbench.  They give suppliers the ability to reference POs, rate sheets, field tickets, etc. to specific invoices.  Not only does this ensure data values are correct, but it also reduces duplicate entry of this information. 

At various levels, company employees make important business decisions that contribute to the company’s success (or lack thereof).  These business decisions are routinely generated by the analysis of data provided by an internal source of information.  In the study conducted by Gartner, it was revealed that poor quality data is a primary reason for 40 percent of all business initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits.  Data integrity is crucial for determining the appropriate action to take.  Should a company be provided with incorrect information, the answer to the problem could be the wrong one.  Human error is inevitable; however, steps can be taken to minimize lost or inaccurate data. 

The most common means of protecting data is by protecting the documents or databases that contain it.  Using software protection or internal security measures can significantly reduce the chance that your information is tampered with.  In addition, creating a trackable and succinct trail of owners to those documents can also be a tool for managing your data integrity.  Keeping employees or customers accountable for changes can ward of both intentional and unintentional tampering of data.  Matching information to multiple document sources is also a key component for maintaining data accuracy.  Cortex’s multi-way match functionality as a great example of a no-cost solution to ensuring accuracy is maintained.  Overall, preventing poor data is less costly than making decisions based on inaccurate data.  By ensuring integrity is maintained from the beginning, companies can be sure to make the appropriate decisions necessary to drive their business further and positively impact their bottom line.  There are many options to preserve the integrity of data and ensure companies can make the correct, careful and calculated decision. 

  

Sources:

http://www.financialops.org/documents/11703/15888/Global+Electronic+Invoicing+-+The+State+of+AP+Automation+Worldwide

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2828722

http://www.insurance-canada.ca/ebusiness/canada/2013/Information-Builders-whitepaper-Bad-Data-1307.pdf

Cash in the barrel: working capital management in the oil and gas industry 2014