So far in our 5 W’s of Data Preparation series, we have discussed what Data Preparation is, why is such an important activity, and who performs it. In this installment, we explore When we are doing Data Prep
In our last post, we noted that everyone in an organization can potentially engage in data preparation activities but when does data prep actually happen? Whenever a person in the organization relates data between systems, data preparation is being performed. When an accounts payable clerk inputs a journal entry to record an invoice, when a sales professional enters customer information into the CRM system, or when a financial analyst inputs a forecast into the performance management system, data preparation is being performed. Each of these activities requires an understanding of the data model of the system with which the person is interacting. In essence, data preparation is always being performed. While the answer is technically correct within the context of this series of when is data preparation performed, we now focus our explanation on more systematic processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Data Warehouse (DW), Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Business Intelligence (BI) and the myriad of other systems deployed within an enterprise each have specific purposes. However, many rely on data from one another to serve their customers (users). An order management system requires a customer list. The Accounts Payable system requires a list of the approved vendors. The performance management system may require a list of employees in the organization. In each of these cases, the lists and their associated data likely live in a system that is used specifically to manage that data. The customer list is defined in the CRM system, the vendor list is defined in the Vendor Management system, and employees are defined in the human resources system. But as you can see, the metadata (lists) and the data needs to be shared across the various enterprise systems. This defines the Connected Enterprise.
In the Connected Enterprise, data is always flowing between these systems. The challenge is that because each of these systems is built for a specific purpose, the data model of each is different. The data model of each is designed to meet the specific functional needs of that system. For example, a customer relationship management system captures detailed customer information such as customer billing address. In the performance management system, that information may be summarized and the customer is represented simply by geographical region for management reporting. When transferring data from the CRM system to the EPM system, data preparation is accordingly applied to define the relationship between the billing address and geographical area so the data makes contextual sense in the EPM system.
To summarize, Data Preparation is performed whenever data is exchanged between the different systems used within the enterprise. Defining, and more importantly, maintaining the relationship between the systems deployed in your enterprise is an ongoing data preparation activity.
In our next and final installment, we will explore "Where do you perform Data Preparation" and explore how OneCloud enables more robust, efficient, and reliable data preparation. If you want to learn more about how OneCloud enables more robust, efficient, and reliable data preparation, please review our datasheet for OneCloud Data Prep.
If you have any questions, we are here to help! Contact us to learn more about OneCloud .