5 Steps to Prevent Data Append Mistakes
Don’t forget to document your file, what you did to it, what you want done and what you want to get back from the processing. If you have a quarter million records to start with, make sure you have a way to check that you will get back a quarter million records. Little slips or misunderstood instructions can result in dropped records, the wrong data element being appended or the wrong file format going out or being returned. Sharing your documentation with your data vendor and service bureau can insure that everyone knows what is expected and the steps you expect to be followed.
5. Test & Validate
Once you have cleaned your file and selected your vendor, run a test. Select a random sample of 5,000 records and ask the vendor to run them through the data append process to append the elements you want. This test will let you gauge how good the match rate will be for your full file. Matching will never be at 100 percent, but the test can let you know if the rate will be enough to produce a useful file—in the 60 to 80 percent range. And, because not all data elements are likely to be appended to all records, you will be able to determine how much coverage you will get of the data elements you want the most. Many vendors will provide a free test to show off their services, their turnaround time, the details of their data and the support they can provide in helping you interpret the results.
Validate the results when you have selected a vendor and had your whole file processed. Use your pre-processing documentation to check that you got back all the records you sent, that the file format is what you specified and that the items you wanted appended were actually added to your file. Your vendor should provide process audit reports that tell you the match rate, the matching on different items and the details of the file you received afterward.