Why do so many companies have trouble creating readable books, useable budgets, and accurate long range plans? I review dozens of companies each year as I pick and choose the small handful of clients I have time to advise. What’s clear to me in almost every case, is the businesses I review suffer from at least one of several major data issues. Today I’m addressing a seemingly easy one: Labeling your data while using several different software packages.
The rising use of multiple software packages that should, but often fail to easily synchronize, gives rise to some of the problem. Companies are simply not harmonizing their data labels across the packages they are implementing. And it gets worse over time as each team using each system becomes entrenched in their own naming conventions.
OMG! These books are horrible!!
A typical case of this might involve, say, the use of a resource scheduling package, a CRM, and an accounting package. Surprisingly, for example, the names of customers often appear differently in each of these 3 systems. This condition causes an annoying information issue for analytical tools that pull data from all three systems, the kinds of tools I write… Correcting the condition is a requirement for making the data usable in order to create accurate budgets and plans. It adds to the cost and time involved in creation of usable analytics and the construction of appropriate KPI’s. It slows the course of digital transformation.
While this is seemingly not a hard problem to solve, actually, it is. It usually requires both organizational commitment, and real process changes through several departments. This raises the complexity of the solution process. Recognition of the source and requirements of the initial nomenclature entry point are required, along with agreement on the ultimate control and authority over this annoying minutiae. The process of this change can often be a barrier to its conclusion as on the fly data record creation points in a critical revenue generating pathway (building a pipeline of sales in a field ops enabled CRM) come in conflict with harmonizing rules and data analytics down the line in accounting and resource planning systems.
I have a solution for my clients that I implement quickly. But I would love to hear from other CFO’s and CIO’s how and when they deal with this particular issue.