It wasn’t that long ago that we all marveled at the potential of cloud applications – especially for distributed work teams.
Benefits of cloud computing are obvious. Less obvious are potential
data integrity problems that can result from scattered work teams.
Software run in the cloud freed workers from their desktop workstations and made it easier for businesses to assemble teams across wide geographic areas. Today it’s a normal part of business, which is good.
However, businesses must also maintain data integrity across scattered work teams, and they must ensure their files are located centrally and not dispersed among personal laptops, USB drives, email attachments, and so on. Automated workflows can go a long way toward helping businesses achieve data integrity, even if team members do not all work under the same roof.
User Permissions, Consistent Processes Essential
User permissions are tremendously important in maintaining data integrity. No business can operate properly if files are vulnerable to access by unauthorized users. Workflows involving documents and other data files must include automated user permissions. This ensures that each user has the viewing, editing, and sharing permissions consistent with their role and function and reduces the chances of human error.
One common problem with larger businesses is the presence of departmental data silos. Comprehensive data integrity requires that businesses maintain consistency in terms of best practices for data collection across all departments. Without standardized workflows for handling data across all departments, each department will likely develop their own systems, which may or may not work with those of other departments. And when data does have to be shared across departments, it’s harder to maintain data integrity if each one has its own standards.
An Audit Trail for Every File
Ideally, a business should have an audit trail for every file. For example, a document should be tagged with information about who created the file and when, and who has had access to it since creation. Automated workflows can be designed to note who accesses a file, whether they make changes to it, and when they do so.
Audit trails prevent the wild goose chases often involved in tracing changes or errors in improperly documented data.
An audit trail is an invaluable resource when a problem with data is discovered, because the problem can be traced back throughout the file history to help determine when the error crept in. Audit trails are also essential in businesses that perform regular internal audits, or that are subject to audits by external industry or government agencies.
Central File Storage Plus Interdepartmental Consistency Equals Data Integrity
When every team member, regardless of location, creates or uploads files to a central location, the workflows used in file creation can ensure that the content of each file adheres to company data standards. Automated workflows are ideal for this because they can prevent problems such as copy-and-paste errors from spreadsheets.
Suppose a team member collects data into a spreadsheet. When an automated workflow is designed to extract data from the spreadsheet and put it into a centrally-stored file in a pre-determined format, there’s no worry about manual data entry errors or copy-and-paste errors, and fewer data errors can creep in. Better still, when a team member collects data into an online form designed specifically for collection of that type of data, spreadsheet errors are no longer a concern.
It Takes the Right Workflow Software
Raising data integrity to its highest level requires powerful workflow software like PerfectApps. PerfectApps is online form and workflow software that makes it easy to create fully customized forms and workflows that do exactly what businesses need. Workflows can collect data, assign user permissions, create automatic alerts, and build an audit trail with every file access instance. The result is data that is consistent across departments and locations and that can be traced back to its origin at any time.
PerfectApps invites you to read through our many case studies to see how businesses and organizations across industries collect, analyze, and maintain the integrity of data while streamlining work processes and increasing efficiency. And if you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at any time.