Data exchange

The high cost of not addressing your CSV, Excel and file-based import problems

Mike Denenberg

Posted 2/7/2024

Even though you know how important it is to have the right data integration tools and processes in place, there's a good chance you're missing an important aspect that can save your business millions of dollars. Unless you already have the right solution in place, it's time to take a serious look at your data import process.

If you're struggling to wrangle CSVs, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs or other file formats that are coming at you from everyone from internal team members to external vendors while juggling compliance issues and data security concerns, there's a good chance you're looking at delayed projects, missed opportunities, lost revenue and customer churn. There are a number of workarounds you can try, but the costs of having no proper solution or the wrong tool add up quickly.

How can you tell that the costs of your current data import solution are too high?

There are several signs you can watch out for, including:

  1. High software development and maintenance costs

  2. Overwhelming data volume and delayed decision-making

  3. Accuracy and data quality issues

  4. Data security concerns

  5. Noncompliance with regulations

  6. Missing oversight and audit logs

  7. Lost focus on core competencies

High software development and maintenance costs

One of the most common workarounds to data import challenges is to build an in-house tool to import CSVs. That can seem like a smart move at first, but developing your own tool can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially when you look at how your costs will build up over time. At the very least, you'll need a dedicated team of developers and testers, plus people who can handle ongoing maintenance and updates.

If your labor costs for using your talented team members to troubleshoot data import problems, research and create solutions, resolve errors, proactively address compliance and security issues, and update the tool have been climbing, it may be time to reevaluate your solution. 

Overwhelming data volume and delayed decision-making

Do you need to coordinate complex workflows with multiple teams and vendors, each working with their own data files? As your company grows, the volume of data you need to manage will grow, too. If you can see that your team is spending a ton of time manually inputting and processing data, it's a clear sign that modernization is necessary.

An outdated or less-than-ideal data import tool can make data acquisition and processing slow and inefficient, and it can lead to customer churn. If, for example,  you have customers who can't use your application because your in-house tool is slowing or stopping progress, it's unlikely you'll retain those customers, and you may want to look at whether you have the right solution in place.

Accuracy and data quality issues

If your team is spending unnecessary time struggling with common data import issues like duplicate entries, inconsistent formats, or missing information, it's time to consider upgrading your solution. If your current solution doesn't support automation, enforce consistent formats and structures, automatically identify and remove duplicate records from incoming data and provide integrations with external data sources, it may be time to upgrade your data implementation process. For speed and ease of use, some platforms even offer features like version control, AI-enhanced features and automated data mapping.

Data security concerns

An outdated tool probably doesn't offer comprehensive, advanced security features like encryption, access controls, and audit trails that protect your data during the import process. Your sensitive information could be more vulnerable to breaches, which can lead to data theft, regulatory noncompliance, and reputational damage, all of which can come with major financial consequences.

Noncompliance with regulations

Many industries are also subject to strict data governance regulations, including GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX, and failing to comply with those regulations can result in severe penalties. You could face expensive consequences if your current solution doesn't provide features that track data lineage, enforce data retention policies, and generate audit reports.

Missing oversight and audit logs

Can you see what's happening during your data import process? Outdated and homegrown tools often don't have a user-friendly interface with easy-to-understand reporting and analytics features.

Unless they offer real-time monitoring, traceability, accountability, and compliance verification, workarounds and outdated data import tools won't help you meet the challenges of data protection regulations, and the costs of separately creating and maintaining this critical information can be high.

Distraction from core competencies

Developing and maintaining your own solution can divert time, energy and other resources from your business's core competencies. If your team can't concentrate on your core focus and you have to devote the developer's time to your data import workaround or outdated tool, the costs of reduced and delayed productivity can add up quickly.

How can you lower your data import costs?

If you're finding that your data import process is regularly becoming a time-consuming task, choosing the right data exchange solution can help you lower your data import costs over time. In addition to solving the problems listed above, there are even more ways the right solution can help your business, including:

  • Reducing labor costs: The need for extra staff to maintain and improve workarounds and in-house tools is an ongoing expense, which can impact your company's financial health over time and eat into your company's profitability.

  • Reducing inefficiencies: Inefficient data import processes can cause bottlenecks in data handling, which slows down all of the other processes that depend on timely access to accurate data. This can reduce your ability to adapt to changes and take advantage of new opportunities.

  • Supporting growth and scalability: Most in-house solutions and workarounds solve a specific problem, but what if things change? As your business grows, managing increasing data volumes and complexities will just become more challenging. Without the right tool, your current processes may struggle to scale effectively, which will almost certainly lead to lost business opportunities.

  • Avoiding the consequences of data errors: Without the right data exchange solution, you're more susceptible to data errors and inaccuracies and all of the consequences that come with them. Employees and customers make mistakes, and homegrown tools and workarounds quickly become outdated and error-prone, which will lead to security risks, data inaccuracies, duplicate entries, and inconsistencies in data formats. Inaccurate data can also lead you to make misguided decisions, which will affect your business strategy, marketing campaigns, and financial planning. Correcting these errors after they happen can be time-consuming and expensive.

What you can do next

Deciding if and when you should consider a comprehensive data exchange solution should be guided by not just the information here but also your specific needs and requirements. The long-term benefits of such a data exchange solution, like automation and time savings, data quality and accuracy and improved decision-making, will far outweigh your investment very quickly. And your ability to focus on your core business rather than on building and maintaining outdated tools or complicated in-house data import workarounds will set you up to thrive in today’s competitive market.

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