As we approach the end of the year, now is the perfect time to evaluate what you can do to get a jump start on a successful 2019.
My suggestion? Kick off the new year with a thorough data cleanup.
You don't want to start the new year with a surge of data-quality issues. If your company or one of your clients has experienced a corporate (or departmental) merger, if someone got sloppy with data entry during a hectic period, or if it has been a long time since your data environment got a good cleaning, a beginning-of-year cleanup can help prevent future issues.
The benefits of a database cleanup can be far-reaching. Inaccurate or unclear data can render customers unreachable. Redundant data could lead to multiple sales calls—and an annoyed (ex-)prospect. Regular cleaning is even more vital if your organization is part of a data-intensive (or highly regulated) industry such as banking or healthcare. (If you’re grappling with GDPR compliance, check out our white paper, “Laying the Foundation for GDPR Compliance.”) An analytics project can only be as accurate as the foundational data.
A proper cleanup begins with a clear strategy. Just as problematic data can affect multiple departments (e.g., sales, marketing, customer service), you’ll need to communicate the importance and benefits of the cleanup to each.
Next, you’ll need to determine the scope of the data errors. Be on the lookout for:
- Duplicate records or attributes resulting from mergers or conversions
- Inconsistently formatted lists from outside sources
- Missing data or mismatched data
- Incorrectly (or inconsistently) formatted email addresses or phone numbers
- Inconsistent state designations (e.g., Colorado, CO, Colo)
- Inaccurate data, such as invalid email addresses
Also, you must pinpoint the location of these errors. Understanding where your data lives and how various databases relate to one another is vital to the success of any cleaning.
One easy way to gain this level of insight into your data is by using SentryOne DBA xPress. This suite of next-gen tools is designed to help DBAs manage large SQL Server data estates—often the result of mergers or acquisitions. Here’s a quick look at how DBA xPress can help you visually navigate your databases and whip them into shape.
First, you can use Object Browser to browse, search, and filter the content of SQL Server databases. See the objects inside a database, including columns and indexes, and easily create scripts related to the objects.
Next, there's Data Inspector, which creates a detailed comparison between databases so that you can compare and easily synchronize data. Simply load your data sources, set your comparison options, and compare your data. You can easily spot differences and then choose which data you want to synchronize, either directly or via a script.
Similarly, you can use Schema Inspector to visualize schema discrepancies. Again, load your chosen data sources. Schema Inspector categorizes objects into those for which a full match is found, those for which a partial match is found, and those without a match. And, you can use this tool to copy schema between compared databases.
For more schema details, use Schema Surf to visualize the relationship between objects in a database, including schema dependencies between security policy, functions, and more. Easy-to-use, animated graphs make it a cinch to see connected objects and drill down into details such as references by foreign keys, views, stored procedures, and functions.
Data Surf fulfills a similar function for data elements, enabling you to compare data in a table and see how it relates to other tables. Use the animated graph to trace details such as a contact’s addresses and transactions.
You can also keep tabs on database disk usage, thanks to Data Space Analyzer, which provides insight into usage across file groups, tables, and indexes. This tool uses display graphs to maximize ease of use.
With the power of DBA xPress at your fingertips, you can start the year off right with a well-organized data environment, setting the stage for a successful 2019. To see DBA xPress in action, check out our free trial.