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I Worry about Data

Business solutions and applications create data about your business - invoices, delivery of goods and services, expenses and the other content that makes your business special.

As your business works with that data, it creates new information, sometimes in a database, a spreadsheet, word processing files, email stores or other forms.

I worry about the Solution, which isn't.

Ok, I'm talking about a Solution with a capital "S." That's really a computer program, some hardware and the procedures people follow to get things done.

I could also call it an Accounting System or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Do you worry? Can you tell if you should be worried?

Symptoms of problems can be many:

  • Double entry of the same data into two different systems.
  • Bunches of spreadsheets.
  • Data procedures which are totally different from what people do with their own paper.
  • Finding the paper file is easier (and faster) than finding the data in the computer.
  • No trust in the computers or the people who work on them.
Accounting Systems
  • Accounting reports give differing results.
  • To close a period takes more work than it should. Your accountant or accounting firm should be able to review the reports and tasks necessary to close a month or a year.
  • Your accounting or data person can seem to be able to train somebody else to perform the task. Ok, maybe in a five person firm, you need only one accountant.
  • Deadlines are missed - either purchase discount opportunities created by timely payment or invoices are never processed quickly.
  • Inventory is mismanaged.
  • Its not a data problem, but embezzlement and fraud can occur in spite of a well designed accounting system.
  • You can't calculate costs and returns.
Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)
  • It takes forever to find a customer in the system.
  • When a customer calls, only the customer service rep who served that person before can help them.
  • Contact management interferes with selling.
  • Salespeople and phone staff are unhappy.
Manufacturing Systems
  • Wrongs and Mistakes are common: the wrong size, item and so forth. The part or service isn't what they ordered.
  • Re-work is a substantial part of the process.
  • Costs are higher than they should be.

How can the problems be fixed?

Fixes begin with analysis. Analysis requires

Sometimes fixing bugs and re-configuring computer hardware and software can be enough.

That means addressing worries about your data, making sure it is both correct and valid. Correct in that the totals ad up from this report to that. Year end close works. Valid in that the data can form the basis for making decisions about your business.

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