How to Improve Data Integrity at Your Tech Transfer Office
It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s also a truism for data integrity, as Becky Stoughton and I discussed at a webinar on improving data integrity for technology transfer offices (TTOs).
Both of us know firsthand the importance of establishing and maintaining data integrity. We have my experience with Fuentek’s own data conversion effort. We have Becky’s learning the need for good data as a TTO director. And then there is Fuentek’s experience helping clients transition/clean up their IP management databases.
Since we had some valuable insights to provide to TTOs, today’s blog post considers the tweets @fuentek sent out during the webinar in a little more depth. BTW, you can read more about what we presented in this detailed article published in the Technology Transfer Tactics newsletter. And Tech Transfer Central is offering a package discount for our two webinars on Optimizing Tech Transfer Operations. (Our other topic was of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)—Becky blogged about SOPs here.)
The Connection to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
This webinar is a deeper dive into some concepts from our previous webinar on standard operating procedures for #TechTransfer offices. Check out the #SOPs4techtransfer tweets or read our blog post: https://t.co/G1DQtQxbeb
Data Integrity Matters to Everyone
Who cares about your #TechTransfer office’s #DataIntegrity? Oh, just your staff, managers, inventors, institution’s leadership, research sponsors, investors, startups, gov’t agencies, and economic development agencies. That’s all. 😉
The TTO’s stakeholders also need accurate or timely information. So, if you have data integrity problems, then your internal issues rapidly become external issues. For example, it could affect faculty research and technology development opportunities as well as promotion and tenure decisions. Additionally, if you don’t have accurate data, you can’t provide reliable metrics and information commonly used in monthly or annual reports.
The Harm Caused by Bad Data Integrity
Bad data ➡️ Inefficient reporting, missed deadlines, decreased productivity, increased costs. Compromises revenue, accuracy, compliance, and your relationship w/researchers & administrators. #TechTransfer office gets perceived as disorganized & inept
Plus, if the administration’s requests for data always turn into a major fire drill with lots of scrambling, explanations, and caveats, they will begin to question the TTO’s competency.
How to Achieve Good Data Integrity
Good #TechTransfer data is accurate, complete, and added to database as received. Making it happen requires training & being clear about who should do what, when, how. Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow; spending time now saves time later
- Accurate: Everyone knows who should capture what information and where it goes. Training and SOPs are provided to current staff and new personnel.
- Complete: For agreements and patent filings, which happen in stages over time, fill in as much information as you can. Then add data as they progress and become final.
- Added as Received: Spending the time upfront means that you will spend much less time later, either cleaning it up or chasing it down when you are asked for it.
Again, established SOPs are key to your success.
Begin with the End in Mind
Whether setting up or cleaning up, think about types of #TechTransfer reports you’ll need to generate. That’s your guiding star. Then, once you understand database’s structure and capabilities, define fields and standard formats for consistency.
- Talk to stakeholders to understand what’s important to them and why.
- Document what you hear and then sketch out a draft report layout (e.g., tabular lists vs. graphical charts).
- Different insights can be gained depending on how you “slice and dice” the data, think about to filter, group, and summarize data so it conveys useful insights that the audience can easily interpret.
Tackling Database Cleanup
#TechTransfer database cleanup: 1. Know what data you have/need. 2. Understand what is/isn’t accurate. 3. Set high/low priorities based on your goals. (What’s worst pain point? Start there.) It takes time, so set small goals to chip away at the list.
Achieving data integrity in established offices that don’t already have it is much harder. And it is likely overwhelming to tackle everything at once, so think about what’s most important.
For example, if you’re trying to increase revenues on existing agreements, focus first on understanding what agreements are in place, their status, and how to leverage the system tools to request payment.
Here are some specific tips to consider:
Digging into the Details
So many nuts & bolts on how to improve #TechTransfer database integrity! Where/How to find errors, fixing them efficiently, using drop-downs, working w/database provider, avoiding potential pitfalls. Get all the deets here: https://t.co/VU58FMeyxI
You Are Not Alone
If you need help, Fuentek is here for you. We have helped many TTOs clean up their databases and establish good practices for maintaining data integrity. Contact us today to discuss what your TTO needs.