Was ist Data Scrubbing und warum brauchen Sie es?

If there’s one thing businesses have a lot of, it’s data, which is why data scrubbing has become such a vital practice. Your budget? Data. Your product inventory? Data. Your marketing metrics? You guessed it—data.

With so much data floating around your company, it takes a rigorous effort to keep it all accurate and organized. But, inconsistencies and inaccuracies can still pop up even when you go out of your way to manage your data efficiently. So, when that happens, what do you do?

The answer is data scrubbing. Scrubbing your data is the best way to get it in tip-top shape. But what is data scrubbing? The answer is that it’s the process of cleaning up your data. Keep reading to find out more.

An introduction to data scrubbing

First, let’s take a look at the basics of data scrubbing and define what it means to scrub your data.

What is data scrubbing?

Data scrubbing is a process that involves going through your company’s data and rigorously modifying or removing errors as you find them. Those errors could have to do with inaccuracy, inconsistency, duplication, or something else altogether.

Data scrubbing vs. data cleaning

You might have heard the term “data cleaning” before. If so, you may wonder if it’s the same thing as data scrubbing. The answer is sort of.

Data cleaning is where you run through your data and fix any obvious errors you see. Sounds like data scrubbing, right? The difference, though, is that data scrubbing is far more involved. When you scrub your data, you’re extremely thorough, deliberately seeking out and eliminating even the smallest errors.

In that way, data scrubbing is a form of data cleaning, but it’s much more in-depth than other cleaning methods.

In fact, data scrubbing even includes automated disk drive and storage system checks when storing data. Efficient scrubbing ensures your data is free from bad sectors and readable.

The importance of data scrubbing

Why is data scrubbing important for your business? Let’s discuss the benefits or regularly scrubbing your data.

Why is data scrubbing necessary?

You might be wondering what makes data scrubbing so necessary. The answer is that without it, your data will be far less useful to you.

No matter how meticulous you are about gathering and organizing data, mistakes are still bound to slip through. There will inevitably be certain data entries that aren’t accurate. And one inaccurate piece of data is enough to mess up everything, particularly if you use that data point to calculate other metrics.

Plus, even where there aren’t outright mistakes, there could be formatting issues that cause data to get calculated differently, or excluded from calculations altogether, by the tools you use. Basically, data mistakes can cause huge problems for your company.

But data scrubbing gives you a way to root out all of those mistakes and save yourself countless amounts of trouble.

How does data scrubbing enhance data management?

Routine data cleansing can enhance all aspects of your data management systems. With accurate and relevant data on hand, you’ll improve:

  • Data integration: Format and standardize data before combining it with other clean data.
  • Data migration: Maintain data integrity as you transfer it from one system to another.
  • Data transformation: Convert data according to your formatting needs before you load it onto your system. 
  • Data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL): Prepare data seamlessly for quality reporting and more effective analysis.

The benefits of data scrubbing for customer data management

Scrubbing your customer data has its advantages, including:

  • Improved customer communication: With accurate and relevant data at your fingertips, you can improve customer interactions and build trust.
  • Better decision-making: Error-free data makes it easier to pinpoint what’s working and areas that need improvement.
  • Improved business revenue: Reduce the time and money spent on miscommunication due to inaccurate data and ensure customers enjoy a positive experience, leading to more conversions.
  • Increased employee productivity: When data is accurate and easy to find, your employees are more efficient and produce better results.

Data scrubbing processes and techniques

Understanding the importance of data scrubbing is one thing. Knowing how to scrub data is another. But before we dive into the process, let’s break down the data discrepancies you should be on the lookout for.

What is data scrubbing used to fix?

There are several types of mistakes you can use data scrubbing to fix. Some examples of the issues you can correct with data scrubbing include:

  • Outright mistakes: Sometimes, data points simply aren’t accurate. Maybe these points were mistyped, miscalculated, or weren’t measured properly to begin with.
  • Formatting issues: You might enter data points accurately but with the wrong formatting. For instance, if you’re entering percentages, you might input one as “75%” but then enter another one as “0.84” instead of “84%.”
  • Old data: There may be times when you enter a data point, and at the time of entry, it’s accurate. But then, later on, something changes, but no one thinks to alter that data entry, so it becomes outdated.
  • Duplicate data: It’s relatively common for data to be inadvertently entered more than once into a database. Having repeat data can mess up a lot of calculations—for instance, a sale might get logged two different times, making you think you’ve earned more than you have.

There are potentially other types of data discrepancies out there in addition to those listed above. With those sorts of issues hiding in your databases and spreadsheets, it’s definitely worth taking the time to purge those issues and improve the reliability of your data.

What does the data scrubbing process look like?

The scrubbing process may differ from one organization to the next. Ultimately, your process will depend on the type and extent of your data set and your analytics needs.

That said, scrubbing data will usually include these core steps:

  • Identify the issues: Inspect, audit, and profile the data to determine data relationships, quality, errors, and other issues.
  • Determine your requirements: Set some data rules that align with your business needs, like formatting guidelines and required fields. 
  • Scrub the data: Correct your data issues in line with your company’s requirements.
  • Check the data: Verify that the scrub was successful by checking the data for the discrepancies you picked up in step one and the rules you created in step two.
  • Document the results: Create a report showing the problems your data cleansing process identified and corrected and how it affected data quality.

After successful scrubbing, you can transfer your data to prepare it for analysis.

Scrubbing your data routinely is the best way to maintain data integrity over the long term. Most businesses should conduct a scrub every three to six months for consistent, quality data.

If you work with particularly sensitive data or store and analyze data at scale, it’s probably best to initiate a data scrub more frequently. A thorough scrub is always a good idea if you ever feel like your data’s integrity is compromised.

Who is responsible for data scrubbing?

Interested in learning more about job roles that typically include data scrubbing as part of their responsibilities? If you’re looking to employ someone to oversee and manage data in this way, you’ll need one of the following:

  • Data quality analyst
  • Data engineer
  • Data manager
  • Data scientist
  • Business intelligence (BI) analyst

What is data scrubbing in a RAID?

If you’re familiar with large-scale data storage practices, you’ll know exactly what a RAID is. 

For those less familiar, a RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a data storage technique used to store your data in multiple locations. This approach improves data storage performance, reliability, and protection.

Data scrubbing is also effective in a RAID—it reads all the data stored, identifies inconsistencies, and corrects them. Scrubbing tools can search for, repair, and rectify copied, unmatched, and invalid data when stored this way.

How do you scrub data in SQL?

When it comes to more complex data storage and transfer systems, ETL tools are commonplace. These tools help companies extract and load data through their data pipeline, seamlessly transforming it to meet their needs.

ETL tools use a data management programming language known as SQL to transform the data. Using separate software or processes to clean the data before transformation can complicate the process. 

ETL tools allow data engineers to write SQL for data scrubbing. This feature lets you simultaneously clean and transform your data, streamlining the operation.

Top data scrubbing tools and vendors

Odds are, your company has a vast amount of data to deal with. Given that fact, manually sorting through every single data entry would be an enormous pain. Thankfully, there’s no need to do everything manually.

You’ll find several different data scrubbing tools online that can automate a decent bit of the process. Here are three of the best data scrubbing tools out there!

1. OpenRefine

Price: Free

OpenRefine is a free, open-source tool for cleaning and altering data. You can use it to peruse your data for mistakes and edit existing data as needed, changing names and adding additional elements.

Another valuable OpenRefine feature is that it can translate numbers into numerical data. Often, tools translate numerical data as text rather than your tools recognizing it as numerical data that you can use in charts and spreadsheets. OpenRefine can identify numbers separately from other text, though.

Openrefine homepage

2. Winpure

Price: Based on a custom quote, with a 30-day free trial available

Winpure is another useful data scrubbing tool and one of the more popular ones available. The great thing about Winpure is its flexibility. It can work with various programs and software, from Excel spreadsheets to advanced databases.

You can use Winpure to scrub data or to do lighter data cleanings. Another helpful feature of Winpure is that it can manage data across multiple languages. So, if you operate in languages other than English, Winpure has you covered. 

Winpure homepage

3. Cloudingo

Price: $2500+ per year, with a 10-day free trial available

The final data scrubbing tool on our list is Cloudingo. Cloudingo can perform all the same data scrubbing tasks as Winpure and OpenRefine, with the added benefit of being totally compatible with Salesforce.

The tool is extremely smart, easily spotting errors it thinks might be due to human error. It can quickly and effectively delete duplicates it discovers without negatively affecting the data itself. Cloudingo even offers additional support for application programming interfaces (API).

Cloudingo homepage

4. DataMatch Enterprise by Data Ladder

Price: Based on a custom quote, with a 30-day free trial

Our final data scrubbing solution is DataMatch Enterprise, developed by Data Ladder. This powerful tool does more than just scrub your data. It offers an end-to-end solution for data management, from data profiling to integration, pattern recognition, workflow organization, and many more helpful options.

DataMatch Enterprise boasts impressive processing speeds capable of importing, profiling, cleansing, matching, and exporting your data in under 12 minutes. With DataMatch Enterprise, you also have the option of API support, simplifying integration and automation.

This software lets you clean data in a host of formats, including MS Excel, SQL, and text files.

DataMatch Enterprise data scrubbing tool

5. Data scrubbing in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel has been a small business go-to data management tool for years. Although it’s less advanced than the above data scrubbing tools, it’s possible to do a basic data scrub in Excel. However, the process includes several steps and will take some time to complete. 

If your data management needs are less complex and you have the time to work through a lengthier process, you’ll find a comprehensive data cleaning guide on the Microsoft website.

Nutshell can help you organize and analyze your customer data

Ready to clean up your data? Great! But before you get started, you’ll need a place to store that data. When it comes to your customer data, there’s no better tool than a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Nutshell.

Nutshell is the perfect place to store your customer data because it can easily import and categorize it. Plus, it can compile that data into reports for you to learn more about your audience. Want to try out Nutshell for yourself? Start your 14-day free trial today!

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