Information collection figures prominently in corporate strategies because it supports intelligent business decisions. Among other things, it strengthens the customer relationship so you can better target their expectations and predict buying behaviors. The core driver of integrated systems is data sharing, but even the best system ever built will be useless if it gets the wrong data. If the users are not made aware of how important their role is in that information loop, it will spell major losses for your company. In this article, I’d like to discuss some of the destructive behaviors I’ve seen among system users.
Failing to see past the end of your nose
Some users tend to think only about themselves when working.
What does it change if I don’t update my customers’ data?
What does it change if I don’t enter the currency I’m using in my bid?
What does it change if I entered the same product twice?
Because I obviously know what I’m doing.
When data entry in a system is not controlled, the result is duplicate, missing or flawed data. When using integrated systems, you must keep in mind that the main goal is to share the information by making it available to everyone. The more relevant the information used, the more effective will be the resulting actions.
Imagine you’re a marketing director who wants to mail advertising brochures to your customers. You log onto your system, create a list of customers to contact and output all the information for the mailout. When you take a closer look, you see that all the customers have the same postal code: HOH OHO.
My point here is to show you that information is valuable. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to work because of a stupid, intentional mistake. The people using computer systems must be made aware as soon as they start using them. Giving them a big picture of the system is a good way of showing them that what they do adds value. To get users involved in the process, give them a forum where they’ll be able to ask their questions and share information on the system. At the same time, you’ll be able to modify your system to better meet users’ needs.
Some people tend to think that the rarer the job the more valuable it is: “If nobody else can do it, they’ll be sure to keep me.” This is a completely destructive way of thinking. The value of someone’s work is measured, rather, by the creation of value added. The more your job evolves, the better it can fit and combine with other people’s jobs, and the more indispensable it becomes.
Change the traditional management model by creating an atmosphere of sharing and innovation on your work teams. To help you do that, identify “positive leaders” of information sharing. Choose those people for their ability to communicate a vision, their concern for improvement and their openness to other people’s ideas. They’ll be the resource people for implementing your changes. Promote teamwork and capitalize on collective intelligence to grow your company.
Maintaining this model means implementing an effective document classification method that everyone uses. Document management can sometimes be challenging if nobody practices it. Don’t play favorites, and demand that everyone get onboard—no exceptions. Users who keep their files on their desk have to stop making it all about themselves and develop a habit of recording their documents in a shared environment.
“Sharing is collaborating”
Believing that data never lie
Remember that a machine executes, while a human analyzes and advises. The system is only a tool supporting the analyst. Let me share with you a piece of advice I recently received:
“Always be skeptical of information and question the data being processed. Take nothing for granted.”
The first mistake is to assume that the information is good, because it’s very easy to make a calculation error, reverse two columns or read the wrong data. Actually, it’s not that the data are lying, they’re just a tool, a raw resource. They have to be processed, organized and analyzed, and especially adapted to companies’ contexts. Improve your performance with accurate system data to avoid the garbage-in, garbage-out syndrome. That well-known syndrome in the IT sector refers to the fact that if the needs analysis and data behind your system are inaccurate and faulty, the results will inevitably be bad. To avoid the syndrome, ask yourself the following questions:
What am I trying to explain?
What information do I need to explain it?
Is this field or data item useful for my analysis?
So, sort your data and choose the relevant indicators for your analyses. Effectively managing integrated systems means getting the users involved so they understand their role in the process. Build a business model around information sharing by promoting the creation of collective intelligence. Finally, be sure to have accurate data by inserting business rules during data entry and auditing what has been entered, thus making your system data relevant and usable so they generate real added value for your company.