What is data management?
It’s how a business collects, manages and uses their data and sensitive information in a way that’s secure and easily accessible. It forms part of your company’s IT processes and it made up of multiple functions. Data is flowing into and out of the business from many different sources and locations, so it’s essential that this information is categorised, managed and stored in a way that makes it easy to use and simple to access.
Proper data management is not only about categorising your documents and data, it’s also about maintaining a record of when it was created, reviewed, published, accessed, and even removed or deleted. It also maintains a record of the people involved in these processes, so that there is a high level of accountability and effective management at all times. It keeps everything in one location for easy access for all employees as well as complete collaboration where necessary.
SharePoint is an exceptional example of a document and data management platform that comes with Microsoft 365. It’s widely used by non-profit businesses across the world and all employees should be educated on safe and proper use of this (or similar platform) as part of their onboarding process.
Think about your data management and how it serves you and your business. Are you practicing safe and effective data management? Here are ten ways to ensure that all new employees are educated on data management, preventing it from being only an IT function.
1. ORIENTATION AND AWARENESS TRAINING
The first port of call for your new employees is to help them understand what data management is and why it’s important to the business. If they’ve never had any experience working with a system like SharePoint, it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce it to them and demonstrate how it works and how the business uses this to manage data and documentation.
A good way to do this would be to follow a piece of data from inception to the many touch points for when it is accessed, moved, used etc.
2. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Once your new employees understand SharePoint and data management as a whole, you can give them context by taking them through the business’s data management system. Seeing and experiencing it first hand is the easiest way for new employees to learn how they will be using it in their own personal capacity.
Some non-profit businesses may prefer to use meta tags instead of folders, management of lists and naming conventions might be unique, libraries will have specific locations. All of this information needs to be communicated in a way that is not overwhelming, but logical and user friendly. A proper data management system makes it that much easier to communicate to newbies who are on their first day of the job.
Once new employees have been given their login details and access to the company’s data management system, the onboarding process can begin. Onboarding using SharePoint reduces the amount of paperwork while reducing the opportunity for mistakes to be made. Using SharePoint, different aspects of the new employee’s onboarding phase can be created and assigned different timeframes.
Examples of milestones include:
- Orientation and awareness training
- Processes and procedures workshop
- Finalising employee documentation, signing forms and contracts
- Assigning hardware
- Introductory week
- First project
As the new employee moves through the phases of their onboarding process, different tasks can be assigned within SharePoint, keeping track of each level of responsibility as it is met.
4. CREATE THE CULTURE
Having a single source of data, such as a system like SharePoint makes it so much easier for new employees to adopt a data culture. There is no room for error and everyone is working off the same source. Ensuring that this culture sticks is an integral part to ensuring optimal running of the business. Some new employees might not be as clued up on terminology as others, so it’s a good idea to have an accessible resource that employees can refer to when in doubt. Think of it as an education centre that gives them all the detail they need on filing systems, libraries, terminology, documentation, what data is used for what etc. That way they can learn as they grow into the business and adopt the data culture on their own.
5. CONSOLIDATE DATA AND MAKE IT SIMPLE TO USE
As per the above, having a single source of consolidated data makes it so much easier for everyone to use and also prevents any issues with unmatched data arising. Sometimes this isn’t possible with legacy issues making new and improved strategies difficult to implement, but then perhaps it’s important to make sure that the most used data is consolidated. Where this isn’t possible, it’s important to have strict, informative guides that will help employees manage and access the data they need, when they need it.
6. GET AN EXTERNAL SPEAKER
Inspire the company and develop culture even further by regularly calling in external speakers who can offer their insight and perspective on data management, SharePoint and the boundless advantages of Microsoft 365. Often an outsider’s point of view can be very different to your own that is very focused on your business’s specific requirements. This can be both inspiring and motivating and can also give your business new ideas on how to manage your data from a strategic point of view.
7. REGULARLY TEST EMPLOYEES ON DATA MANAGEMENT
In order to maintain a high level of quality and service for the business, the data management processes need to run seamlessly and effectually. This requires that employees are updated on new releases, features and additional process, and that they’re regularly tested on the current running of SharePoint and the business’s data management services.
Not only should employees be tested on the way they collect, manage and use the non-profit’s data, but the actual data management system should also undergo regular scrutiny to ensure that the business is getting the best value out of it. Strategic changes can be made at any time if they’re going to be in line with the way that the business has evolved.
8. START SMALL AND EDUCATE OVER A COUPLE OF WEEKS
It’s impossible for a new employee to take in everything in one go, so it’s important that you break down what needs to be accomplished into bite-sized chunks. Perhaps after the onboarding process and the culture has been ingrained into their psyche, you might want to share your data management strategy, so as to get their buy-in while everything is still fresh in their minds.
Entering new data, the proper management of data and storage thereto might be something that is essential to the running of your non-profit, so align what the new employee needs to know with your business objectives. From there, the more advanced functions or those that aren’t used as frequently can be shared in due course.
9. DISCOURAGE USB DRIVES AND PERSONAL CLOUD STORAGE
This falls into the data culture and is something that your new employees will adopt when they’re becoming one with the data management system. Using USB devices can not only cause issues with the spread of viruses, but can also increase the chance of data theft and compromising your data. They aren’t necessary for a properly maintained data management system and should be removed from the business.
10. GO PAPERLESS
We are living in a digital age and paperless systems not only contribute to saving the environment, but they’re the perfect way to reduce system errors, duplications, missing documents, etc. You can also save physical space and do away with the need to have actual filing systems and storage units. You have so much cloud-based storage you don’t need an actual filing cabinet. A paperless system is also much more secure than the converse.
Now that you’ve got a bit more direction, do you think you can onboard your new employees to an efficiently run data management system?