Data Onboarding

Avoiding the pitfalls of sweat-based data-file imports

Gottfried Sehringer

Posted 4/4/2023

Rolling up your sleeves is the American way. It is the embodiment of the can-do spirit that fuels our innovation and discovery. But sometimes putting more effort into solving a problem isn’t the smartest way to work.

When it comes to moving data between people and incompatible, outdated systems, businesses all over the world often approach the problem by allocating more effort and  resources to the project. We call these “sweat-based solutions.” This often results in a great waste of effort for a solution that offers no future return on that investment. 

It’s time we think of new ways to solve old problems. Ways that will continue to deliver benefits well beyond today.

Getting down to the hard work

Consider the moment when your business enters a new business partnership. After signing the deal, you’ll need to act fast to share important data that will fuel the partnership, such as joint customers, prospects, products or projects. You need to hit the ground running and show your new business partner that they chose the right people to partner with. This mission-critical time lays the foundation for your future business relationship.

Oftentimes, however, it is during this critical time that you will learn of some obstacle in your way: Your partner’s data is offline, in a proprietary system with no way to access it directly, or it's in a spreadsheet but there is no consistent structure to how it is formatted. 

To transfer that data into your own system, you end up receiving the data in various files and formats and are going to have to review every column and row of data to ensure everything is in its right place before you make the transfer. And, your team may go back and forth with the partner combing through thousands upon thousands of rows of data in an effort to get it in shape for import into your systems. 

So, what do you do? You assign members of your own team to tackle the problem and give them a tight deadline. They work late hours for weeks trying to make sense of the data and massage it into proper form, neglecting their core duties. Maybe you hire part-time workers to help them. Maybe they build an automated data importer that can make the job go faster. As a result, they are wasting an enormous amount of time doing something that will have no benefit for them later on. Even if they complete the project in record time, they’ve only completed this one task (monumental though it was), and they will be unable to capitalize on it in future projects.

Don’t sweat it - there is an easier way

The smarter way to work is one that permits you to reap the benefits of all this effort. It understands your needs and comes with predesigned solutions and the flexibility to override and edit those solutions at any moment in the process. A smarter system is built to work for your problem and all your future problems. It is based on a comprehensive repository of real-world use cases from thousands of companies that have had to do this before, and uses artificial intelligence to learn from all previous decisions to support the data import process. It formats names, dates, and other information perfectly and according to the rules you have established; it matches column names and their contents to your own, and validates the data, making it easy for your team to review and clean any outliers or collaborate with your partner’s team to fix any source data issues. It is simple enough for anyone in your office to use, and yet, fully customizable for your software developers to get under the hood and integrate it into your own systems. It is a solution that works for enterprises of every type and size.

The smarter system described above is the one we have spent years building. Flatfile makes it simpler, faster and more secure for developers to create a data import process that makes it easy and seamless for business users to exchange data and collaborate across companies and teams. It is the culmination of decades of experience doing things the harder way, followed by extensive research and discovery in how to do it better. It is a solution that will save you time and money, and allow you to get back to the core business of your enterprise.

Sure, hard work is often what is needed to get the job done. But, sometimes it is simply better to rethink the problem and consider a new way of doing things. Replacing hard work with smarter, more efficient methods can streamline your business and add to your bottom line. So, keep your sleeves down and save your sweat for the gym.