Efficient data collection leads to better reporting.
Whenever you need to provide data to anyone, chances are you think of how to present data report without even looking at the source of the data.
But, if you work with data, you know that it flows like a stream. And, when we need to obtain data or need assistance doing so, it helps to know which part of that stream needs assistance.
Below, we’ve put together a few steps that make up the flow of data as a way for you to assess the quality of your own data collecting process and, in turn, improve your reporting to your municipality.
What Data Do You Have to Collect?
The first step involves identifying and defining your data elements or leads. So, identify what you need to collect for reporting purposes, and what you need for internal monitoring and planning – and why.
In this first step, then, you should identify data elements that are necessary for your reporting purposes, as well as those necessary for program purposes, like monitoring and evaluating so as to improve your overall capacity to meet your municipality and your constituent’s needs.
Where Will You Find the Data That You Need?
The next step is to identify the data sources, or where you can find what you need. Think about where the data you need resides, and even in how many different places. There may be some places that are easier to acquire data from than others.
Next, figure out what it takes to get the necessary data, when, where, and also how. This includes elements such as requesting the data, capturing it, recording it, and storing the data from your identified sources.
How to Collect Your Data
The whole point is to collect data to improve reporting, so you also need to consider how you will collect the data. In this step, you could:
Modify or develop the necessary data collection tools to make sure you’re collecting all your required targeted data.
Define and communicate how the data ought to be collected and submitted for reporting purposes. At this point, you could provide the tools for direct entry to a database.
Make sure that the data is stored appropriately so as to prevent untoward or inappropriate access or theft due to system breakdown.
Finally, implement and communicate your standards of confidentiality, security, and privacy to protect the data.
Quality Procedures and Validation of Data
During data collection, how can you tell if the data that you collect is good and that it accurately reflects what you want to report? You need to validate it.
During step four, you need to design and then implement procedures to examine the data in terms of:
By carrying out these procedures, you can also include communication and training along with system checks and data quality improvement measures.
At the end of the day, good data quality is the foundation of a good report. Ensuring that you are capturing the right information for your reporting needs is a crucial part of building insights on your municipal information.