ETL Part 2: How to Improve Data Extraction and Integration

In our previous blog post, we took you through the basics of data extraction and integration. The complete process of Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) is essential to making data-driven business decisions. Before you choose and integrate your ETL tools, you’ll need to have a solid strategy in place. There are a number of challenges you’ll need to overcome, as well as best practices that can help ensure success. So this week, we’re going to give you some practical insights and advice on how your company can build a winning ETL strategy.

Your organization needs to approach ETL as more than a technical process – they also need to see it as a business strategy. It could be part of your digital transformation strategy, which itself should help your company achieve its business goals. As you’ll see, this is not something to just leave to the folks in IT, as vital as they are to the process. Cross-functional participation in your ETL program will ensure that data is improving decision-making at all levels, nurturing business growth, and boosting your company’s bottom line.

The Importance of ETL

Well-run data integration empowers your company to use the data that’s flooding into your company from a wide range of sources every day. It transforms seemingly unrelated data into a network of interrelated information that is accessible to more than your IT team and data analysts. This accessibility can lead to massive improvements in decision-making; a PwC report states that your company is three times more likely to make better decisions than a company that doesn’t leverage its data.

How Do You Know if You Need Better ETL?

You know your organization’s ETL process is working properly when nobody’s grumbling about

  • Misplaced data
  • Outdated data
  • Duplicate data
  • Conflicting data between business systems
  • Improperly formatted data

Giving people the information they need to do their jobs means preventing everything in this list of grumbles. This, in turn, means making a sizable investment of resources to ensure efficient and effective data extraction and integration.

Time to Get Strategic

It all comes back to strategy. Without a business strategy, your ETL program won’t deliver the information your organization needs for smart decision-making. Instead, your company will end up relying on intuition; that is, every decision is a gamble.

How to Develop Your Data Integration Strategy 

Once you’ve identified areas of ETL improvement, here are four steps you can take when building your data extraction and integration strategy:

Set clear goals

The goals you set for your ETL program need to be well-defined and should contribute to your company’s business goals. For instance, reducing costs is a common business goal. Your data extraction and integration plan could include the deployment of an automated document data capture process that will reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of document processing. The result: huge cost savings. 

Brief IT properly

Your data extraction and integration plan will need IT support. Not only for the deployment of new software tools. You’ll also need them to make sure all systems play nice with each other, and provide stakeholders with the information they need, in a format they can understand and work with. This is where other teams come in: as brilliant as they may be, your IT folk can only meet stakeholder requirements if they know what those requirements are. Having tons of data to work with is great, but much of the information that is vital to your Marketing team might be useless to, say, your Legal, Finance, or Procurement teams. Get representatives from teams that will benefit from ETL deployment or improvement to communicate their needs clearly and regularly with IT. 

Establish data management and security protocols

We’re stating the obvious here. If it isn’t obvious, stop reading this and work on getting your organization’s data management and security protocols up to scratch. Part of your data integration processes likely include the extraction, transformation, and loading of personal data. At a time of massive security breaches and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensure your ETL program has a solid data management and security plan.

Determine your integration requirements 

If you’re running a small- or medium-sized business, your data integration challenges and needs are going to be different from a national enterprise or multinational corporation. So as you’re reviewing and selecting ETL tools, you’ll need to understand what you and your project’s stakeholders want to get out of them. There are also budgetary considerations, as well as how much IT support is realistic. Will you need to bring a third party on board to integrate specific software solutions to specific business systems? Or perhaps you need something that works out of the box or has a user-friendly integration wizard? This decision demands more than your IT team’s involvement, as there are additional budget and resource considerations to take into account.

Be Prepared for Failure

In theory, ETL appears to be a straightforward process. But if you’ve spent any time using any type of computer application, you know there’s always potential for failure at each stage. You’ve got to be aware of bugs, glitches, hacks, and other forms of developer and user error. A misplaced, forgotten, or mistyped digit or letter during the extraction phase can cost your company dearly.

Then you’ve got to consider failures that are out of anyone’s control: power surges, power outages, those goddamn OS updates that start up on their own at the worst possible time…. The point here is, as you’re developing your ETL program, you may need to yet again enlist IT so you have a reliable failure recovery plan.

Rossum Can Play a Key Role in Your Data Extraction and Integration Plan

Easy to integrate, easy to use, and easy to customize, Rossum can be the foundation of your ETL program:

  • Extract

Rossum’s AI extracts document data with minimal human intervention. Rather than entering data, human operators can quickly validate captured data, training the AI to improve in the process.

  • Transform

Rossum can then transform the captured data into formats to import into your accounting, ERP, or other business software. The platform currently supports XLSX, CSV, XML, and JSON formats, enabling anyone in your organization to work with the data Rossum extracts.

  • Load

Finally, you can set Rossum up to automatically load extracted data into one or more of your business systems according to your organization’s specific needs.

This small, yet vital, part of your data extraction and integration plan can help your organization meet its cost-cutting and profitability-boosting goals. As you’re developing your company’s ETL strategy, you can see Rossum’s ease-of-use, effectiveness, and efficiency for yourself – you can sign up for a trial and start processing documents in minutes. 

Rossum works out of the box, and you can use your trial to process up to 300 documents per month for free, with no obligation. If you need a Dedicated AI solution to meet your company’s business requirements, or need to increase the volume of document processing, feel free to get in touch with us!

Missed part 1? Read it here. Stay tuned for part 3 coming up soon.

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