4 Keys to Navigating the Flow of Data for Improved Business Performance

Tides are a fluctuation – rising and falling from forces exerted by the sun, the moon, and the Earth’s rotation. Depending on where you are on Earth, sea levels are subject to any number of external forces such as wind, inclement weather, land masses and changing shorelines.  By collecting and reviewing data on tides humans have been able to navigate the globe with some level of predictability. The same holds true for business. Collecting data from many sources, compiling, and analyzing it can help improve the way you navigate through your current business environment and provide a measure of predictability as you move ahead.  Here are four factors to consider as you work towards your goal:

Chart a Course

If your company is vested in change management and have established departmental KPIs, then you are already halfway there. Communicating strategic and tactical changes the easy part. Implementing new ideas, advanced technology, and innovative processes to move your business forward can be a struggle, and enabling cross-department collaboration is easier said than done. But innovation is necessary to the success of your business. According to the Tech Pro Research IT Innovation Report 2015, over two-thirds of businesses surveyed cited the ‘exploration of new possibilities, better technology, development of new products, and new ways of doing things’ as the reasons for innovating. With the frenetic pace of technology, businesses that remain status quo risk stagnation while competitors embrace capital expenditures and advance their capabilities. Start by determining the data you want to get out of your system and how that information will be used to move your business forward. By clarifying the result desired, you can improve collaboration and focus on the data sharing, reporting and analytics you need to revolutionize your work.

Shore up Your Technology
Often businesses implement software only to utilize a small percentage of it. Reset your expectations with your vendor and discuss the ideal utilization of your current product.  Many businesses are also using disparate software systems that don’t communicate – causing a breakdown in data management. Whether you have a legacy system and need to add new functionality or, are looking for a new system for overall business process improvement, we suggest closely identifying how the data is getting into the system from multiple sources – email, print, database, web – as well as the reporting and analytical capabilities across the enterprise.

If you are behind the curve start by looking at tapping information archived in silos like invoices, spreadsheets, reports, customer service logs, financial and marketing reports, and sales forecasts. With modern enterprise content management (ECM) systems, all of that information can be unlocked through an API with your line of business application or scanned, uploaded and automatically fed into a centralized database.  Cloud-based products can offer impressive scale and results for less overhead than traditional systems and are easier to implement across departments and geographically diverse locations, offering tools and reports accessible across the enterprise. From document management to AP Processing, ERP integration and more – every industry can access the tools needed for capturing, storing and accessing the right data.

Observe Highs and Lows

Highs

Now that your data is electronically indexed – you can retrieve it via reports or graphical dashboards that provide real-time intelligence, visibility to key bottlenecks and the ability to optimize workflow.  With a centralized database of information – everyone has access, wherever they are – creating a more transparent environment for making the right business decisions.

Lows

These tools can also be incredibly helpful in identifying areas where a lack of data is causing an issue. Re-design your internal operations to ensure that you’re capturing data and advanced towards a more efficient process.  Additionally, look for any information you are not using, how it can be accessed via ECM, and transform static data to evidence you can use to implement change, improve processes, and achieve best practices. ECM systems today can import data from virtually any input device in any location, from multiple applications and file systems across the globe. With the option of incorporating rules-based workflow automation, you can potentially increase the chances that the right data gets captured, routed and approved by key stake holders.

Set Sail
When you collect the right data, you can then identify and capitalize on growth trends and process optimization in key areas – including finance/accounting, compliance, and operational efficiency to name a few. By proactively managing data, you are also improving compliance and risk mitigation. Without the proper controls, misplaced files, scattered documentation, and unsecure file sharing can quickly turn into security breaches, lawsuits and hefty fines that can take a serious financial toll on your business.

Review reports and key data analysis with management teams to answer outstanding questions and continue to make changes as necessary. Having a flexible software system integration is crucial and working with vendors who have the experience and aptitude – specific to your industry requirements – can add real value.  Basing business decisions on the accurate information will improve communication, performance and predictive capabilities – all key factors in growing, thriving and navigating the ever-fluctuating tides in your industry.

Jeff Frankel is Executive Vice President and Principal at docSTAR, a B2B software firm specializing in cloud document management solutions and business process automation. He has more than two decades experience in corporate business development, working with industry-leading firms including Authentidate Holding Corp, Med-Flash, Health Focus of NY, and Ernst & Young. Jeff offers innovative perspectives on streamlining business for improved efficiency and productivity. You can follow Jeff and the docSTAR team on Twitter, @docSTARsoftware.

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