As we recently learned, bad data can result in poor business decisions. There are key factors that contribute to bad data but also important steps you can take to ensure that you have the best quality data possible.
Integrate your systems
The top way to solve your issue with bad data is to integrate your systems. Gone are the days when you only have the key data you need in one system. If you’re like any of the hundreds of companies I’ve worked with, you have on-premise apps, cloud-based apps and likely a handful of people storing some of their critical data in spreadsheets. You cannot truly make business decisions if data exists in multiple systems and is not consolidated from a reporting perspective.
Use a tool to integrate all your data and keep your systems in synch – and then report from there. By choosing to integrate your systems, you’re safeguarding against missing data and user error from an individual manually inputting what they ‘think’ is critical.
For example, take a company with many disjointed systems. Perhaps the financial information resides in their on-premise ERP, but the sales team is using a cloud based customer relations system. Let’s say the sales team is trying to determine a pattern of orders from a customer – for example the customer orders 10 cases of widgets every 3 months. If that information is only in the ERP system, the sales team would never know to reach out to that customer before they need more widgets and suggest adding on another item as long as they are purchasing.
Find a reporting solution
Now that you have your systems integrated, reporting is easy – right? Well, it can be. Often I’ve found that native reporting solutions don’t always give you the reports you need – especially after determining when and where you need the reports. Here are the top 3 things to look for in a reporting solution:
- Easy to build custom reports
- Your business is unique. Sure, every business should be looking at the balance sheet, income statement, and cash-flow statement, but what other reports should you spend some time studying?
- Web/Cloud-based option for remote employees or executives on the go
- If your office is like mine, we have someone on the road nearly every day. Often those employees are jumping in on meetings remotely or trying to access a report for a meeting they are attending out of town. When an employee is on the road, there are times they have a customer contacting them to ask about the status of something, or ask about a future project. If that employee does not have access to the systems they need 24×7 from anywhere, that could cause lost business. Make sure the employees have access to the data they need, anytime and from anywhere.
- Data Volume
- Make sure that whatever solution you choose is robust and can handle your growing business. Have you ever clicked on a report or a website, and it sits and spins and spins? Do you give up and not get the report or answer you are looking for? It happens more often than you would guess. Without a system that can handle your report requests, you will stop looking for the data you need as you do not have time to waste watching a report spin and spin. Make sure your reporting system can handle the amount of data you want to review.
Business decisions can be made with confidence if you follow my two rules – integrate your key systems and data AND make sure you have a stellar reporting solution to get the reports you need.