Sorting Your Data Is Important
A database is just a collection of data. Its value is measured by your ability to access specific parts of that data rapidly and easily.
When confronted with a whole host of information, one of the first things that will bring some order to that information is to sort the data alphabetically, or numerically. Suppose you have a list of 200 prospects you are supposed to follow up to set sales meetings with. Who do you call first?
- Well, if you have previously set follow-up dates to call them on, you should probably sort your list by follow-up date, with the oldest dates at the top of the list. That way you will be calling those people you missed earlier. They will be the first ones on the list.
- You may have classified your prospects into different categories, like what products they are interested in, or how close they are to closing. If this is so, you may want to sort your list so that specific categories appear together, so you can concentrate on those ones first.
- How about the locations (suburbs) where the prospects work. If you are setting up multiple sales meetings, you probably want to limit your travel time, so it would be good to call people in concentrated areas. You can sort your list, therefore, on the city, suburb, or post code you want to concentrate on this week.
When you are looking at the data of different companies, the information can be presented in various ways. For instance, if you look at the details of a company, that would include a list of the contacts within that company.
- Initially that list of contacts should probably be sorted alphabetically by contact name, so you can find the person you are looking for – assuming you know their name.
- It would also be handy, however, to look at the list in Position Title order. That way you can find the Service Manager or the Accounts Payable person quickly, even if you don’t know their names.
- If you are listing people who are both current and past employees of the company, it would make sense that the system would sort the ex-employees to the bottom of the list, so they are still available, but don’t get in the way.
These are the type of situations that the sorting/ordering functions of a good database are able to address. Remember, when you work with data, your primary concern is to be able to manipulate it rapidly and easily. Sorting is a key part of that capability.