Get the Full Story From Your Data
Data is one of the most valuable resources a business has. It’s the key to repairing weaknesses and leveraging strengths. Solid information lets managers make better decisions for their departments: Sales can find the most profitable accounts; Purchasing can predict seasonal demand and Operations can improve production rates. But businesses that rely on isolated reports aren’t realizing the full value of their data.
While department-level reporting is helpful, it’s also one-dimensional. The most valuable insights require multiple pieces of information. Unless a business combines purchasing, sales and operations data, it can’t accurately calculate the cost of a custom door or determine if it’s being sold at a loss. Businesses must synthesize their information if they are to profit from it.
“Synthesize your data” is easier said than done for businesses that use different software programs for their core processes. Exporting multiple data sets and reviewing them in a spreadsheet is time-consuming at best. For instance, sales reps are much more successful when they review an account’s stats before a meeting. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford to spend an afternoon looking up open quotes, backorders, delivery histories and past-due invoices for all their customers. Valuable information is there, it’s simply inaccessible. Even when people spend hours processing operational data with a spreadsheet, the results are less than perfect. Unless someone at the company has a background in data science, it’s easy to miscalculate values and misinterpret results. Trying to do cost allocation with an Excel formula is incredibly risky.
Analysis becomes much easier when businesses consolidate their core processes under one software application. Multi-functional platforms like the Agility ERP system use a single data set, so updates made in one area of operation are immediately reflected in the others. For example, when a sales rep enters a work order, it’s immediately visible to employees in Accounting, Purchasing and Remanufacturing. Because Agility supports every area of operation, it has the built-in ability to combine information from multiple departments when calculating things like suggested purchase orders and cost allocations.
While data is an incredibly valuable resource, it’s prohibitively expensive to use without the right tools. Software that allows businesses to make smarter decisions, gauge performance, and track actual profitability is well worth the investment.
Earl Downing has 23 years of experience with software for the building materials industry. He is a senior sales account manager for DMSi.