Quality of Business Information

How to Improve the Quality of Business Information

Using Information Effectively within a Business

In my leaflet 'Using Information' (Shown below) I have mentioned some of the most important characteristics that must be considered when using information. In the leaflet I will be going into a little bit more detail on how each of these categories are important in improving the quality of your businesses information.

Valid and Accurate Data

it is important to make sure that your data is valid so that you can make informed decisions and are up to date. If your data is out of date or is no longer relevant then you could end up making decisions that have a negative effect on the company when it could have been avoided. You must also ensure that data you collect is accurate so that you can trust the data you collect. If the data is inaccurate then any actions taken as a result of the data might not work out how you planned as the data could be wrong. If collected data is not accurate then it can not be valid and vice-versa.

Reliable Data

If your data is not from a reliable source then you can't be entirely sure that it will be valid. You must always make sure you can trust the source when gathering data. Gathering data from an untrusted source can be justified only if you have another method or source you can use to check the validity of the collected data.

Timely and Cost-Effective Data

When you are collecting data you must make sure that the data will be collected in time for it to still be useful. If the data is gathered after it is needed then it will be useless to you and the company. You must also make sure that the data is cost-effective to gather in the first place. If you lose money from the process of gathering and using the data then there is no point in gathering it in the first place unless you get some other benefit from it. There is no point in spending money and resources collecting data that will have a minimal effect on the company.

Fit for Purpose and Detailed Data

It is important that the data you collect is fit for purpose. If the data you collect is not relevant to your needs and requirements then you will not gain anything from it and will just be wasting precious time and money on gathering data that has no use to you. You must also make sure that the data you collect is sufficiently detailed and contains all of the information you need. If you collect data that is to general and doesn't meet all of your requirements then you will have to spend even more time and money gathering the extra data that you missed. If the data does not contain all of the details you need then it can not be fit for the purpose you require it for.

Accessible Data

Another thing to consider when collecting data is to make sure that it is easily accessible and also is easy to use. If the data you collect is not easily accessible and takes time to access then it will be difficult to use. This would just end up making peoples jobs harder than they need to be and also waste time. As a result of this you should make sure that all data you collect is displayed and stored in an easy to read and access format so that it can accessed quickly and easily when it is needed.

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How to Improve the Quality of Information

If you want to improve the quality of the information you gather then there are some key areas that you must take into consideration whenever you are collecting your own data or gathering it from a third party organization. These key areas are the different types of information, the purpose of the information and the sources that the information is gathered from.

The main types of data are primary data, secondary data, quantitative data and qualitative data.

  • Primary Data - This is data that is directly relevant to your needs that is gathered yourself through first hand experience. An example of this type of data could be a survey you conduct.
  • Secondary Data - This is data collected and made available by a third party for you to then use for your own needs. Some organizations provide this data free of charge however there are also companies that sell data as their business model. An example of this type of data would be information you found in a study someone else conducted.
  • Quantitative Data - This is information about quantities that can be measured and expressed with numbers, for example, the amount of traffic a website receives. Quantitative data is useful for studies with a broader subject matter such as the number of males or females in a country's population.
  • Qualitative Data - This is descriptive data and as such is harder to analyze, such as people’s reactions to certain situations. Qualitative data is useful for individual studies that require more in depth data.

It is important that you take into consideration the purpose of data that you collect as this could have an effect on what types of data are collected and the sources you use. For example if you want to collect data on a small towns thoughts on a particular matter then you would need to collect a range of data directly from the citizens of that town. If you collected your data from a local newspaper then you run the risk of getting only a single persons opinion which could be the complete opposite of the general opinion of the rest of the town. Also as this research would be aiming to gather peoples opinions you would mainly be wanting to collect qualitative data.

When collecting data you must be sure to take into account the sources you use. Some things to take into account are source bias, how trustworthy that source is and also how relevant it is. Some example of this could be collecting data on the predicted outcomes of an upcoming sports match from a source located in the same area as one of the teams. That source is likely to be biased towards their local team. You could also be trying to collect data on a country. If that data is collected from a source outside of the subject country then you must make sure that the data is valid and accurate.