Poor Business Information Management – What Is It Costing Your Business?

Is your business drowning in information?

Are you buried under tons of paperwork and just don’t know where to start? Are you spending more time doing the paperwork than running the business?

Does you current business data management system provide ready access to your business data and perform the analysis necessary to make informed business decisions?

These may seem like simple, basic questions but in many small and medium-sized businesses they go unasked. What does this mean to the bottom line of your business?

Business data management is paramount to making your business profitable and successful. Making your information and data work as hard as you do, and turning it in to an asset rather than a liability, will give you the edge over your competitors. Effective business data management could be the key to the business success that you have been looking for.

The HOW TO of Business Data Management

All businesses today generate and need access to significant amounts of information and data, much of which is critical to the efficient and profitable operation of the business. Information like customer contact details and sales data, appointment scheduling, stock control or managing production flow and financial records is the life-blood of any business. It needs to be managed effectively to get the most out of it.

Just the process of collecting and recording business information can take a great deal of your staff’s time, and therefore your money. Just as important as collecting business data is HOW it is managed and used. Many hours can go into recording business data, and just as many of those hours can be wasted if the information is not stored in a way that provides ready access or analysis of the information it contains. Obviously, recording business information on random notes or even in structured text documents such as Word is better than nothing. But information stored this way is difficult to track and even more difficult to search. Performing any meaningful analysis on large amounts of data stored in this fashion is virtually impossible.

Using spreadsheets, such as Microsoft’s Excel program, will provide access to structured information as well as the ability to perform some effective business analysis over small subsets of data. However filling out spreadsheets and keeping them up-to-date can be a time consuming task. And what do you do when you have voluminous amounts of data that you want to analyse for trends, or business opportunities. Unlike databases, spreadsheets are limited in the number of records they can manipulate and rarely provided the correlation between disparate data holdings that is required to perform meaningful analysis.

Making the Most of your Business Information

I think we all can agree that proper business information management is an important aspect of effective business management and should be a core consideration in ensuring the success of your business.

As you have probably realised by now, using hand written notes, document files and even spreadsheets may not be the most efficient way for you to manage and make the most of your business information. In fact, when you take in to account the time and effort necessary to collect and store the information, collate it, and then try to make sense of what it all means, you have likely come to the conclusion that unstructured business data is costing your business not only tens of thousands of dollars in time and resources handling the information, but also many thousands of dollars in missed opportunities that proper analysis of that data could have identified.

For the efficient and effective management of business information you really need a database. Databases provide significant advantages over other forms of information capture, storage, retrieval and analysis. More importantly a database enables rapid access to any data held within the database through sophisticated, and yet in most cases easy to use, search functionality. Most database systems today handle virtually any size data-set, be it large or small, and have the ability to perform tasks as simple as ‘Customer Relationship’, ‘Inventory Management’ or ‘Asset Management’, right through to the more complex sales and/or trend analysis, across ten or even hundreds of thousands of individual records.

Perhaps equally as important is the ability of relational databases, such as the Microsoft Access database, to vastly decrease the time and effort required to collect the data. With functionality such as data import, default field values, lookup tables, drop-down lists and the ability to enter common data (which may be used often across 1000s of records) only once, they can significantly reduce the time and effort required to collect and store information.

Over time there have been many database applications available. Whilst all these database systems have provided the basic data storage and retrieve capability, more modern-day database applications such as Microsoft Access Database provide a graphical user interface, simplified querying and comprehensive internal reporting functionality which is capable of analysing and charting vast amounts of data in very short periods of time, often only seconds. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to incorporate all the modern features required by any business to effectively handle their information management and analysis needs. Microsoft Access Database comes packaged with the ‘Office’ (professional) suite of software tools, and its integration with those tools makes passing information and data between documents, spreadsheets and databases a simply process which greatly enhances and simplifies its data collection, analysis and reporting capabilities. Existing users of MS Access Database will also be aware that several of the sample databases that ship with the Access Database, whilst basic in design, already provide some good business information management tools.

Whilst Microsoft’s Access database is easy to use, allowing basic databases to be easily built by the novice, it also contains advanced functionality and features that can be used to build more powerful, integrated business information management systems. Consequently, a number of ‘business to business’ companies specialising in the development of custom, business specific, Access Database applications have emerged. Where you have a need to build a database to meet a specific requirement within your business, but just don’t have the time or someone with the advanced training and knowledge required to build the database in-house, then using a specialist Access Database developer may be the answer. As there are many such companies offering this service the development rates are usually very affordable, and you will find that the time required to have a functioning, customized database, up and running will be significantly reduced.

Effective, efficient business information management is a must for anyone wanting to grow their business and their profitability.

The Truth About Free Home Business Information

You will find free home business information useful if you have plans to start an Internet home based business. This kind of free investment business opportunity will be a lucrative offer for you enabling you to earn a good amount at your own pace.

There is no limitation to the benefits and the earning that you can derive from an Internet based home business.

In an online home business, the one advantage you have at your fingertips is that you have the entire world as the market where you can make your business popular and highlight everything about the products and services that you offer.

Internet business affiliated programs will make running a home online business even more easily for you.

The nuances to making the home business your source of income

From free home business information about building your own web business, you can learn about your interests and favourite topics that will be highly beneficial for your online business.

Your website will help you pick up internet traffic fast. After this, you can opt for a couple of related affiliated programs that will be excellent for popularizing your website and revenue earning.

You will be more interested in free home business information, when you realize that internet based home business can be a way to do what you enjoy doing and at the same time end up earning a decent amount of money from your Internet home business.

Another thing you will learn from free home business information is that you do not need too much of your money to invest from the start. But then you will also need to invest “your time”; if you spend your time building a good home business, you will already be earning a handsome amount of money before you know it.

Home business will give you flexible hours of working and the opportunity to be your own boss. An internet based business makes it convenient for you to build an International business and make your services gain recognition all over the world.

In case you have your family working with you, you will be able to have tax deductions on help from them. There will also be more deductions for travel, seminars, electricity bills, gas, phone, publications and more.

If you already have a job, then all the free home-based business information can also be a blessing for you, as you may have to give just 3 to 5 hours every week to your online business and get a full income.

This will not be interfering with your present job and let you earn as much as you like. If you are smart, you will get hold of an online business well and get earning well.

Share Our Business Information With Who?

Business information has traditionally been kept hush-hush. Typically it is only trusted to upper management and the finance department. Sharing such information was once an unspeakable sin. Today, things are quite different in the workplace. With authority and decision making being redistributed across the organization, employees at all levels find themselves deeply involved in the day-today running of the business. This increased involvement creates a need for more information.

Teams need good information in order to function effectively. A key role of today’s management is to make sure the team gets adequate business information in order to function effectively. Getting business information to the team that is timely, credible, relevant, and understandable presents a number of challenges. These challenges maybe internal to the team or external to the team. The benefits outweigh the challenges. Many organizations now have a practice of regularly sharing business information with all of their employees. Advantages include:

– Sharing business information will help employees to understand business fundamentals.

– Sharing business information helps employees see how their work contributes to the goals and objectives of the organization.

– Employees are better able to think beyond their job, department, or division.

The numbers can have a dramatic impact on the employees feeling of ownership.

These advantages help improve the teams’ problem-solving and decision-making skills. Managing the information needs of the team is a critical function of the team leader..

Sharing business information with an entire team requires asking some difficult, self-reflective questions. Taking the time to answer those questions will create the proper environment for the team. Successful team leaders know how to make the information meaningful for their team. They give meaning to the numbers so the team can answer the question, “How does this affect us?” Team leaders must think very carefully about what they want to do and why. They should consult some of the many books, articles, seminars, that are available on the topic of sharing business information.

The team leader must decide precisely what should be shared with the team. Team involvement is critical at this point. Take the time to introduce the topic at a meeting and explain why it is important. Allow people the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns. Next, ask the team members what kinds of business information they need. Be prepared for a lot of silence at this point. Since few team members may have had access to business information in the past, they may not know how to answer the right questions.

As a minimum, most teams need the type of business information that allows them to monitor and adjust how they are performing. These teams also need information on the goals of the larger organization so that they will be in sync with the company’s strategies. Above all, the team must have information that will help it understand the business in order to make good day-to-day decisions. If receiving business information is new to the team, the team leader must start with basic information and slowly work up to a broader understanding of the numbers. This is an educational process and the intention must be to create a foundation of business literacy within the team.

Only when the foundation has been created, can the team leader help the team think about its ongoing business information needs. Quality, cost, delivery,safety, and employee morale, are examples of typical indicators. – What are the primary indicators of how the team’s business is performing?

– What type of information will help the team track these indicators?

– What is the source of the information?

– How often should the team receive this information to be timely in its decisions?

– Who is responsible for obtaining this information?

It is simply not enough to bring business information to the team. The team leader must also understand the principles that underly the effective management of business information so that it feeds good team performance.

Planning about how to sustain the business information effort is just as important as implementation. Without continued attention to maintaining adequate business information on the day-to-day operations, the effort will simply fade away and become another “Flavor of the Month”. It is crucial to design a business information system that will function independently of the team leader. This is especially important if the organization is not totally committed to sharing the business information or if there is a turnover in team leadership. In these instances, it is best to leave behind a sustainable system.

The road to sharing business information with the team has a number of ups and downs. The team leader must be persistent. It is essential to not allow the team to get discouraged by a few setbacks. Obtaining the type of information that creates energy and drives excellence take work. Remember, you must maintain a reasonable pace. It may require a little time for team members begin to trust the numbers, let alone use them!

Expect that you will face obstacles as you plan and implement the business information sharing strategy within the team. Some of the obstacles will be external to the team while others will come from within the team. The assumption in sharing business information is that authority is redistributed within the team. Rather than the organization sharing information on a need-to-know basis, it is treating employees more like partners. The team leader no longer holds information as a form of power, he/she is responsible for sharing the knowledge and training the team about the business.

This gives the employees a chance to gain more control over the day-to-day business by understanding business fundamentals. This will enhance employability and give a sense of pride and ownership that stems from being more actively involved in the business