Small Business Managment - It's All About The Data!
There is a critical issue which most small business owners seldom pay much attention to: the quality of their most valuable corporate asset ? their data. Whether the source of the data is a customer management system, an operational application or a financial package, the issue of data quality is unquestionably a critical business question. No business can meet its full potential if the decisions made in running the business are based on incomplete or unreliable information. Data duplication, incomplete contact information, invalid data for a given field ? these are all types of data quality conditions which can directly impact the performance of your company if left unchecked.
Information quality is actually more complex than you might imagine. The logistics of a data quality project are not that daunting. It is certainly not difficult to initiate an internal ?clean-up? project to remediate errant data conditions (provided your staff can find the time to accomplish it). Bringing in an expert solutions provider to perform data cleansing is a good alternative and should be seriously considered. Be prepared for a bit of sticker shock though because this service is a highly specialized discipline that requires years of development and training. Just don?t dismiss the idea because you are afraid of the costs. Ask yourself if you can quantify the costs to your business every day of not solving the data quality problems you have. If you can?t do so easily then you might not understand the scope or pervasiveness of the problem. Most solutions providers in the data quality space can show you the bottom line justification if you ask for it.
Perhaps more important, however, is what you do to change the culture of your business to one which embraces the concepts and requirements of information quality. This isn?t easy. This is all about recalibrating the priorities of both the staff and the senior management of the firm. Just as no business can qualify for a prestigious quality award like the Malcom Baldridge without having undergone a comprehensive realignment of internal thinking, so is it true also that data quality will never be effectively resolved if it fails to be championed by the owner(s) and promulgated down through the hierarchy to the front line. Quality is a cultural mindset and working methodology ? this applies to data just as surely as it does to processes. Don?t waste your money on a clean-up project if you won?t also evaluate what your business can do to prevent data degradation from recurring. The solution is an investment in your business?s ultimate success. That?s one way for your business to stay in step!
About the Author: Jeff Canter is President of Step 1 Management Services, LLC. Step 1 offers Technology Strategy services to small businesses. With more than 25 years of experience managing and enabling businesses to realize more of their full potential, Jeff applies pragmatic, real world experience to solve tough business problems.