When was the last time you needed to make a decision without the information being available to support your decision making?
Data is the foundation of any organisation, without accurate, timely, consistent data, making good business decisions and carrying out daily operations are much more difficult. To best manage the business data in an organisation regardless of size requires discipline, process and passion.
A great way to turn your business data into a valuable and reliable business asset is to follow a method of managing the data, a 3 step process of:
- Identifying issues
- Curing those issues reducing the chance of the same issue reoccurring
- Caring for your data to keep it in a certain state to benefit the organisation
Recognise where problems with data are causing pain, be that internally in finance, logistics and marketing or externally with your customers. It may not be immediately obvious that poor data is causing the problem. For example:
- Reduced sales from a mailing campaign
- Trucks not being fully utilised when delivering products, or the planned load being too big for the truck.
- Sales for each product category under reporting the full unit total as products are sold under different codes or in different pack configurations
- Customer complaints i.e. what they expect to arrive vs what actually arrives
It is the medicine that cures the “data” disease or relieves the pain. That could be a quick fix, a process change to improve the data or a procedure to check data. For example:
- Amendment of the category a product or number of products are reported in
- Review of products in a range to check for the consistency with the weights and dimensions and pack quantities
- Checking of products in a category for a consistent marketing message
- Adding / removing of a field on a form for collecting information
- Communicating a tighter definition for a particular field on a form, to enhance understanding and remove any misinterpretation of the information
This is an extension of cure, once you have identified the issue, found a way to resolve that issue, short or long term you need attend to the data on-going to keep it in a “good” state, just as an old car needs contestant attention to keep it in working order. Data can become corrupt and inaccurate over time.
- Regular reporting to check codes in each or a specific set of categories, highlighting new codes created
- A process to check product data; when a new product first arrives in the warehouse, via a quarantine department and at specific points, such as a change in supplier or once a year as an on-going audit process
- Email addresses are checked with entered into the system – an automatic email is sent to the customers email address asking them to confirm the email address is correct via a link
- Regular audit reports with variances set to highlight potential issues, also known as profiling. This could be on product weight, highlighting products above and below a set weight; a lemon showing as weighing 3Kg or a tin of beans weighing 3.5g
Over my forthcoming blogs I would like to walk you through how I took a multi-billion dollar global corporation from having poor data and lots of customer complaints to building a reputation for the best quality data in the industry.