Data Management: It's Not About the Software
While this is a step in the process, putting it at the front-end is the wrong place because data management isn’t about the software. It’s about changing the way that your employees and your business operates on a day to day basis.
Data Answers Questions that Help You Improve Your Business
Essentially, you need to use data to get answers to the questions that will help you improve the way you run your business. The questions that you ask will depend on your particular business and industry, but here are a few to get you thinking:
- Do we have the right capacity? Do we need to add or get rid of certain pieces of equipment?
- Are we purchasing the right amount of materials? Are we purchasing at the right time and in amounts that are cost effective?
- What are our true costs? Are we accounting for all of the resources we use to produce and/or ship?
- Are we scheduling resources in the most effective way? Do we have downtime or bottlenecks that are slowing us down?
Getting a Data Management Project Started
The first stage in a data management project is envisioning what you want your world to look like so that you can figure out what data points you need to collect at any given time. This is not just for your products but for all the materials you receive.
If you aren’t already tracking everything going in and out of your business, one of the first action items will be to start using bar codes to scan and track all of your materials.
Decisions About What to Track and How to Track It
The discussion about what you’re going to track and how to track it usually involves your head of Operations. You’ll also need to have an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or WMS (Warehouse Management Software) specialist involved. This person needs to have the expertise to make sure that the data goes to the right place inside the system.
The end result of gathering data points is to be able to create the reports you need to make decisions.
Again, this is answering questions like: “Do we have all the components in stock to make a certain number of widgets?” “Do we have machine time and labor available?” “Can we meet the lead time specified by our customer?” and so on.
Do You Have the Right Software?
Only after you have a good idea about what data you need to collect can you bring software into the discussion.
Can your current software do what you need it to do?
Maybe it can with additional modules. In some cases, like using custom software that can’t be updated, you may have to switch to an entirely different software.
Bring In New Technology
Whether you’re updating your current software or moving to a different application, you’ll need to determine what changes are needed to your IT systems to support the platform. You may also need new equipment, such as scan guns and bar code label printers.
Wireless access may also need to be improved in your facility. Connectivity is one of the most important, yet commonly overlooked, factors in determining whether a new solution will be successful or not. It doesn't matter how great the system is if it can't connect to the network or the Internet.
Training staff is also important when bringing in new technology. They'll need to be trained on how to use the new system, and also how to follow the processes you've set up as a result of improving your data management.
Use Technology to Improve Your Business
If you’re not meeting your goals; if you’re always struggling with the day to day; if you’re not as profitable as you think you are – these are all signs that the way that you use technology could be holding you back.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your business by improving your data management? Access our 30 minute webinar "Data Management for Manufacturing, Distribution and Logistics Companies: How to Improve Every Layer of Your Business by Improving the Way You Track and Manage Products and Materials".
Or, contact us for a free IT assessment. We’ll help you figure out where your gaps are and find opportunities to leverage technology so that you can be a stronger competitor.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.