The Scourge of Stale Data

BY IT GLUE | April 23, 2019

Some things never get old. Data is not one of those things. When it comes to the data you rely on to run your business, the only thing worse than no data is stale-dated data. Pretty much everything you document will be fresh and relevant at the time you write it down, but nothing stays current forever. And stale data isn’t like style – it’s not going to suddenly become cool again in 20 years. No, it will still be worthless. Stale data is less like a classic sports car in need of a tune-up and more like a car propped up on blocks in the front of the yard.

Stale data is a scourge, one that must be purged.

Too much of anything is too much (if it’s inaccurate)

Documentation can be incredibly powerful, especially for your techs. The more they document, the more information they have at their fingertips to help them solve your clients’ problems. We encourage every MSP to document as much as they can about their clients’ tools and environments.

That said, documentation that is inaccurate might actually be worse than having no documentation at all. If you have zero documentation, at least you know that you need to find things out the hard way. You can build that into your processes. Those processes will be clunky, but at least you’re working within known limitations.

When you have stale data, you look at it and think you have good data. When you try to rely on that data, you find that you cannot. It’s like you build up all your hopes and dreams, and then have them crash right in front of you. Ok, that might be a bit hyperbolic, but it really sucks when you think you have the right password logged, only to find out that you actually don’t. Not only are you right back where you started, but you wasted time and maybe got a little frustrated along the way.

So how does one deal with the scourge of stale data?

There’s a couple of approaches. First, it pays to have a rhythm for reviewing your critical documentation. Use checklists, flags, and workflows to help build up this rhythm. Assign sections to different people to create accountability – remember if it’s everybody’s job then it’s nobody’s job, so create clear pathways for accountability by assigning specific tasks to specific people and holding them accountable.

Second, remember that time is money. Only assign tasks to actual people when a script can’t do the job. Leave no stone unturned for automating regular updates. Use PSA and RMM software that integrates into IT Glue, to ensure that your documentation is as up to date as possible. Manually updating documentation is a pain, so the more you can automate the better off you’ll be.

Third, build out an archiving system. Having a clear means by which you can distinguish between data that is up to date and data that is out of date will help you prioritize your efforts, and keep outdated information (otherwise known as noise) from cluttering your IT Glue account.

Our advice is to automate as much as possible, target high-value SOPs for periodic evaluation, and archive anything that’s out of date. Do so, and you just might end the scourge of stale data once and for all.

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