thousands of rows
of messy CSV data

files of original data, thousands of rows

as a
single, clean dataset

single and orderly file

Data Wrangling & Harnessing Services

Whether you came to this page because you're just starting out and you want to save yourself from making all of the usual data collection mistakes, or you've been collecting data for a while and history ("it's always been this way" or a collection of legacy software) is catching up to you, you have a data wrangling and harnessing issue. Why are you still spending time collecting unusable data or data that's resistant to working with you? It's time to inventory what you have and clean it up so that your data can do its work.

No software or other data tool can help you if your data is a mess. It could be the case that your data tools are working perfectly, but your data isn't "pulling its weight," and that's the real source of your problems.

  • Have you noticed different spellings of the same city? This can make it hard to answer "where" questions, like where your clients live and where you should target your marketing efforts. (Was that "Buffalo" or "bflo" or "Bfflo"?)
  • Have you noticed duplicates? If this is a mailing list, people might be getting multiple mailings from you on the same thing, which will seem like mindless spam.
  • Do you offer a standard list of services or products, but people type that in as free text and you have to spend a lot of time making sure you know what they meant? Do you just need some dropdown fields that control input better?
  • Do you have data in different places that you need to match up? If you're matching things up incorrectly (e.g., was that Erie County in PA or Erie County in NY), you could be making decisions based on faulty data, or misreporting on your data.

I'm sure you have some stories to tell. You're not alone, and it doesn't have to stay this way.

A Case Study: Changing demographic categories

A client had been working with a legacy database that captured demographic data. Race and sex/gender labels and understandings had changed over time, which resulted in different users entering these values differently, and some entries were now "outdated." The client was left with a need to report consistently on demographic categories, but without consistent demographic data.

In this case, the solution was twofold. First, the client's current reporting requirements were assessed to ensure that those categories would be captured appropriately. Second, old category data had to be mapped, as much as possible, to the current category system so that the data would be properly counted in reports.

This solution also incorporated slight changes to the database interface to allow for client-managed dropdowns of the desired categories for future data entry. Reports were updated to allow both for reporting by expected categories and category values. Audit-style reports were also added that allowed the client to generate summarizations by all categories and category values utilized so that the client could ensure that no data was overlooked and reporting needs would continue to be satisfied, both during the transition to the new category system and in the case of future category changes.

How we work...

Blou Designs has honed a 4-Phase methodology for getting data in order.

We Discover

Barbara will meet with you — by phone, by video chat, or in person — to discuss your needs and why you think your data isn't delivering. If we decide we're a good fit, we'll start on your project.
We Plan

This is where we nail down what you want to do with your data, and where your current methods are falling short. This usually requires a deep dive into the data and your processes to make sure your data will end up in a format that meets your needs. Blou Designs will get to know you, your vision for how things "should" work, and your data.

Based on our discussions and analyses, Blou Designs will devise a technical plan to develop your solution. This solution might range from something that deals just with your data (e.g., a one-time data cleansing and/or data port (import or export) to another system) to a solution that also integrates a data tool and/or training so you can replicate this solution on your own in the future.
We Transform

What this looks like will depend entirely on the nature of your solution.
We Deliver

On time and within budget, your final solution is delivered to you.

There won't be any surprises, because you were a part of the planning and data mapping in Phase 2.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you taking new projects right now?

Yes! Let's connect

How private is the data I share with Blou Designs?

Unless you've given your written permission to share your data with another party, we keep 100% of your data to ourselves, including anything you might share with us before we actually sign a contract to work together.

Just like any other system on the planet, ours can be hacked, but we'll make every reasonable effort to make sure that doesn't happen with your data.

How long does it take?

This really depends on the complexity of the project.

If you're interested in data cleansing services for an existing data set, or you need data reconciled/correlated between data sources, it usually takes at least two (2) weeks to get familiar with your data.

If you're interested in collecting a new source of data, we'll need to explore what data collection methods you already have in place and what alternatives might be available to collect and store the new data.

If you want to establish new baseline metrics, again, this will involve delving deep into your existing data stores and determining if the data collected already fits the new metric you have in mind.

I can't tell if I need a data tool or better training or wrangling/harnessing services.

It's true that getting your data into shape might also require a little data tool modification so that you can use the new data format to its fullest, and that sometimes users of a data tool need training to make sure they're using all of the dropdowns correctly. Sometimes, though, it is as simple as cleaning up past data entry snafus.

Let's connect and talk about your situation.

How much does it cost?

Because your data is unique to you and your history with it, our solution will be customized to you and so the final cost depends on your particular project. connect with us to discuss your needs.