Data is often the most crucial element of projects because it provides a lot of important information about how well the project is coming to a head and how successful the project is overall. Proper tools and strategies can help you overcome the many challenges of managing data.
Utilize Data Management Tools
First and foremost, you have to have the right equipment. There are several data management tools and systems available for you to use in your projects.
The absolute must of any data management tools is that you need some place to host the files. This can be filing cabinets or a local server to hold the data. You will also want to keep back-ups just in case something should go wrong.
The next step is to find or develop a system of organizing and archiving data. There are several programs out there that can help facilitate this. The most optimal system would be one that allows you to organize your data in a lot of different ways; chronologically, alphabetically and recently updated are some options that are a must-have. You will also want something with a search function that allows you to quickly search your databases for the information that you need with as little effort as possible.
Other options are constructing a mass collaboration system in which employees themselves can add data to an archive or wiki accessed or changed by others. This encourages discussion as to why something may be wrong which gives great insight into the challenges of managing data.
Appoint Supervisors and Multiple Data Collectors
Supervisors are a great way to cut down on the human error factor in data collecting by checking the data collected by an employee with what the numbers actually were. Supervisors can also collect and organize data themselves and summarize it for reports or put it into a database themselves.
Another way to cut-down on human error is to have one or more persons collect the same data. Similar to a science experiment, the more sources you have the more accurate your data will be. I strongly recommend this strategy for anyone who is dealing in a project that requires the most accurate data possible that cannot be collected by computers.
Request Regular Reports
Regular reports are an absolute must when trying to have successful data management in large projects because they allow organized looks into the data that are being collected.
Reports will help by breaking down raw data into the most meaningful bits of information and place them in a clean and organized format. This allows for easier input into a filing system and helps you as a project manager by allowing you to see data with more clarity.
Running estimations and simulations before a project begins is a great way to get some early figures of your project's numbers. This helps tremendously because you then have a baseline to which you can compare the actual data.
If the data do not match up correctly there will be helpful information as to where an error in the data collection may have occurred. This will allow you to better troubleshoot your data management and give you more time to focus on other elements of the project.
Credits and Sources
All images are used for promotional purposes only and are listed in the order they appear.
Information sources are credited to personal experience and study in project management.