If you could start again with your systems and processes and design them from scratch, using all the knowledge you’ve gained since they were first implemented, what would be different?
Exploring this question is a key component of finding the combination of technology that will deliver the efficiencies and reporting you, and your business, need.
In this article
- Why businesses need data
- Keeping up with business changes
- Don’t hold progress back
- Don’t let the tail wag the dog
- Look to experts for guidance
- The cost of compromise
- Are you ready for technology that can keep up
Why businesses need data
The two key reasons we record and store information are:
- To fulfil our obligations; e.g., order information, customer contact details, etc.
- To analyse our business processes; e.g., marketing effectiveness, production metrics, etc.
As our businesses evolve, we might have a requirement to store more or different information. This is a fork in the road. You can either work with what you have, possibly employing a workaround to accommodate your new data in a current system, or update your system. And it’s the latter I would always recommend. However, not all solutions are created equal.
Keeping up with business changes
Changes can occur at all points in your process. Perhaps the production method changes, due to new machinery or supply chain adjustments, or your marketing team launch a new initiative, or your finance team instigate a new procedure for billing.
Here’s a simple example to illustrate the point.
A marketing campaign is launched at Goldstar IT and adverts for a new service are placed in several media outlets. Our sales people ask prospective customers where they heard about the new service and the answers are recorded in the customer database under ‘notes’.
With this approach the information has been captured, but it is difficult to analyse as it’s mixed in with other customer details.
A better way would be to have a menu for sales to choose from, e.g., ABC Magazine August edition, radio advert on Heart FM, etc. This would capture higher-quality data that could be interrogated easily for insights, such as the highest-performing media, cost per lead, conversion rate (enquiry to confirmed sale by source) and response time (the timelapse between the advert launch and enquiries coming into the business). All of these insights will help Goldstar IT to make more informed marketing decisions for future campaigns.
While this example may be simple, the need to update our technology is clear, else we will collect data inefficiently and store it in a format that prevents us from easily analysing our effectiveness. At best, that would represent the first step in a laborious manual process that ultimately leads to some insights. At worst, it is work done for its own sake that will provide the business with no benefit.
Don’t hold back
Any smart business leader knows that you can’t hold back on progress, and growing companies in particular move at pace. So, how can you be sure your technology is not only keeping up, but is serving you in the best possible way?
Planning is key. When a change occurs in your process we recommend you revisit the flow of data through the organisation, with a view to understanding how and why it is used. You can then decide if the new data needs to be recorded and the best possible way of doing so.
Don’t let the tail wag the dog
If you choose to record data, there will be good justification for doing so. To get best value from that data it’s important to store it in the most effective way, and this can require changes to your technology.
It’s here that many companies will unintentionally compromise.
You see, if you start to record new data without first revisiting the data flow through the company, you could overlook how that data can be put to best use. Without clarity on the impact that data could have you may not record or store it in the most appropriate format or location.
Look to experts for guidance
This is where support from an external partner can help. When we develop a new system for a client we look at their data journey. We question if data is needed and the value it delivers, how it needs to be interpreted and who needs access to it. When a change in process or procedure is introduced we can quickly revisit the data flow and adjust the system accordingly. We can be the sounding board for decisions around what to keep and where to keep it.
The best part is that our team can customise our solutions in almost any way imaginable, so you never have to compromise. Your data will be captured, stored and interrogated quickly and efficiently, helping you to make more informed decisions.
The cost of compromise
When we say ‘customise’, most business leaders hear ‘cost’, but I would argue there is a huge opportunity cost when you ‘make do and mend’. Here’s a quick and easy test to work out the value of new data – if the investment in updating your system to store it accurately feels high, perhaps the data isn’t valuable enough to store in the first place. A bold suggestion, but please hear me out.
Take the marketing data we used as an example earlier in this article. Storing the data accurately in a format that allows quick and easy analysis will enable better, more cost-effective decisions to be made in the marketing department. Saving the cost of one advert in the future would easily cover the investment made in the system adjustment now.
Turn this on its head: without making this investment in system adjustment, you could be collecting data for years in such a way that you can’t gain insights without a substantial investment of time and energy in extracting the data and manually interpreting it. That is a significant, variable and ongoing cost to the business, as opposed to a measured one-off cost now.
Are you ready for technology that can keep up?
If you want more from your data, processes and systems, get in touch. We’ll be happy to explore with you how a fully mapped out data journey could help you achieve your business goals.