Data is essential to what you do every day. It helps you define who your target market is, it tells you how your industry is doing, it gives you information about your competitors and clients and it gives you information about current and future sales. This means how you organize and interpret data is paramount. Here are some ideas on how to best make your data work for you.
Simply Your Data intake
First and foremost, with much data available to you on many different aspects of your business, how do you figure out what you really need? It’s important to know what it is you’re accumulating and what you’re actually using. From here, you can simplify.
If there’s information you’re taking in that you’re not using, consider halting storage of it.
Also, think about refiling data under broader designations to give you a better look at the big picture.
Redefine Your Organizational Categories
If your client data is organized by client name, you may want to move it to broader categories, like account manager or client industry. This type of reorganization may bring things that are happening with your clients and within your company to light. This type of data reorganization will provide a comparative analysis to highlight industry trends as well as insight into how your account managers are doing.
Quality Check Your Survey Techniques
As you simplify, look at the quality of your data. Is the data you’re taking in reliable and can it be validated? If not, consider redesigning your survey techniques. Make sure data is quantitatively measurable. Also make sure you’re taking in this measurable data systematically. This will serve you well as you’re using the data to make big decisions.
You want to have the highest quality information possible available. Take employee exit interviews as an example. Asking open ended questions might seem like the best way to get perspective, but asking measurable questions will provide you insight as you look at the big picture of multiple employees. This broader look may highlight why you’re losing employees and help your employee retention.
Bring in Professionals
If getting started with reorganizing your data and figuring out your company needs seems overwhelming, you should hire sales operations professionals to do this work for you. A sales ops professional will provide the tools needed to make strategic decisions about your company’s future. They have skills in extracting meaning from data and really understanding how it can work for you to increase sales.
Link Data From Different Sources
While looking for more ways to extract meaning from your data, also consider linking data from different sources in your organization. For instance, if you find you’ve lost multiple customers and want to know why, look at data about these customers next to data for long term customers. What differences do you see in the accounts? Finding the similarities and differences between the two may help you make big decisions that could help you bring clients back and keep current clients with you.
Further, analyzing data in a way that benefits your organization comes back to your data organizational methods. It’s not always going to be possible to see what made a project successful at an individual level. Organizing data into a database that fits all these pieces together can do your company a lot of good. It will give you a clear picture of why you achieved certain outcomes.
This goes deeper than what you can do with a spreadsheet. Using database management software and training staff in the skill sets that allow them to manage it will go a long way. Database management systems will help you visualize your data and make it work for you.
Create a Data Entry Procedure
Especially when using databases, having a data entry procedure in place can really improve your game. Small mistakes can skew data and create big gaps when trying to analyze. Errors can also create SQL errors when running queries. Making sure you have a policy in place and that those using your data are trained on can be of great benefit in ensuring data stays pure and isn’t skewed.
Keep Track of Outcomes
As you’re making big changes to your data management, make sure you’re keeping track of outcomes. Since data can be skewed by errors, you’ll want to be on the lookout for this possibility. Additionally, as you analyze data and make changes based on the information it provides, you’ll want to see if your theories were correct.
For instance, say you make changes to the way you service clients because data shows that clients serviced a certain way are more likely to continue doing business with you. It’s then essential to keep track of whether these changes have an effect when applied to new clients. Some changes may not work at all and some may be a huge success. Either way, it’s important to know whether the changes you made based on data analysis did impact your business.
Do a Security Check
As you’re reorganizing your data and using it in new ways, data will become even more important to you, so it’s important to think about security. Your data should be secured both physically and digitally. Don’t leave important files laying around, even in your office. Make sure you have a good password management system to keep digitally stored data safe and regularly train your staff on network safety.
Additionally, data should be encrypted so even if it is hacked by outsiders, it’s not easy for them to understand or recognize.This is also a good reason to invest in multi-layered security, like a firewall and multi-factor authentication. Unfortunately just utilizing a strong password isn’t enough to keep away those who want to steal your valuable information.
Backup Your Data
Since systems can fail, even with the best security, it’s essential to back up your data. Having a copy saved to a computer and to the cloud can go a long way. Cloud storage also makes data more accessible to those who need to use it in your organization.
Data is crucial, but only effective if it’s managed and used properly. Make sure you’re using your data in such a way that you’re getting the most from it.