When you first start your business a lot of processes are improvised. From accounting to marketing, and everything in between, it is normal for the first few months of operations to be fairly scattergun as things get up and running.
Yet sooner or later standardization needs to come into play, and structure has to take over from serendipity. Nowhere is this more important than in company data.
Put simply, ‘data’ simply means ‘information’, and refers to a range of puzzle pieces including turnover figures, customer contact details, delivery addresses, and preferred supplier names. There are plenty of ways to keep your confidential company data secure and organized, but a few core truths remain crucial when it comes to data consistency.
Let’s take a look at some best practice approaches.
Select software with care
Every business leader knows there is nothing more imperative than data-driven decisions, which is why accurate data needs to be at managers’ fingertips at a moment’s notice. Instead of being taken in with fancy marketing pitches and genial sales representatives, be sure to ask probing questions about the data security track record of your chosen software service provider.
Such a considered approach will prevent time wasted attempting to retrieve data that was not properly stored in the first place. For instance, when collecting customer feedback in a focus group, quantitative data is validated with qualitative feedback. Secure and appropriate data logging of such items ensures that important information is accessible to exterior teams, such as product development, logistics, and marketing.
While it is possible to share such data via email, it is generally not efficient or secure to send large files in this way. For this reason, carefully chosen CRM and ERM tools are pivotal to successful data sharing between teams.
Appoint a data consistency leader
Modern companies need a data governance officer who oversees the input accuracy, storage security, and appropriate sharing of business sensitive data. If your company is not big enough to employ such a dedicated person, ensure a team member is elected as the accountable person in charge of data consistency.
Standardizing data input through a named officer can save a lot of future headaches in terms of customer service, accounting, and customer records management. Consistent operations data input ensures efficient use of everyone’s time. A gut-wrenching 30% of enterprise time is wasted on useless tasks owing to poor data quality and availability.
As much as operations managers would love to set up a data protocol once and leave it in place for the lifetime of the company, we all know that is not how real business works. Scheduled data processing audits need to take place in order to ensure consistent input, processing, and timely deletion.
A data processes audit needs to be a discrete, considered activity, taking place either quarterly or twice per year. Whether it’s supply chain management figures, delivery management numbers, or forecasting data, all aspects of operations management must be regularly inspected for accuracy and efficiency.
Depending on the size of your company, the results of these audits should inform the creation of, or an update to, the data governance policy for the business. Such practices form the bedrock of master data management.
Continued customer engagement
Whichever industry you are in, customers today have a myriad of marketplace options to fulfill their wishes. Companies that excel always have their particular customer niche in mind, informed by continually updated data. A crucial concern for most businesses, then, is continual customer insight collection.
However, customers are only likely to hand over their data if they fully trust a company, which means this is a relationship of give and take. Technology such as real time speech analytics can equip customer service agents with relevant solutions and help maintain happy customer relations. Comfortable clients are far more easygoing with handing over their data, meaning operations can continue to tick over profitably.
Staff are the gatekeepers to business operations data. Motivated, properly trained, and capable staff will do a world of good for data input consistency. It is a well-known truism of cyber security that the biggest risk to IT systems is people. Likely it is this that motivates business leaders to splash 23% of the annual IT budget on skilled staff.
Yet nobody is perfect, and forgetfulness can strike anyone at any time. However, personnel at the helm of CRM, accounting, and operations databases need to be willing and able to handle their roles with rock-solid reliability.
From the employer side, this means providing regular constructive coaching. An incredible 98% of employees will not engage with their work if managers give little or no feedback, making data inaccuracies a ticking time bomb for operations.
However, technology is the saving grace of human imperfection and there are many software solutions that can make up for the shortfall in human attention. One of the many benefits of recording meetings, for example, is the increase in accountability for accurate data input.
Equipped for success
Technology forms the fabric of data processing infrastructure for our businesses today. Yet it is the personnel in charge of these software tools that determine whether day-to-day operations fly high or fail miserably.
With the above strategies, operations managers can inspire their teams to appropriately manage company data in a consistent way. Just as real time accounting aids finance departments in their quest for database perfection, so too can a mature data governance protocol set operations on the path to success.