data is power

As your business grows, so does the value of your business data. But without the right systems in place, it can be very challenging to use that data to inform your decision-making process. In practical terms, how do you make use of the data your company already has?

If your first answer involves taking a deep dive into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, you’re on the right track. Since these tools are designed to collect, manage, and access your customer data, they allow you to streamline countless business activities and operations.

By building on this core functionality, your business can accurately predict trends in customer buying habits, identify shifting sales trends, and anticipate inventory levels much earlier and more precisely than traditional methods.

Let’s take a look at three key ways to get the most out of your ERP and CRM data…

  1. Cleanse Your Data

No matter what kind of business management software your company uses, your results will always be limited by the quality of your data. Over time, even the best-kept records can become inaccurate or corrupted.

Customers move to new addresses. Important contacts get promoted or change jobs. Phone extensions get swapped out. There’s also human error. For instance, a team member enters important customer data in the wrong field. And there are the endlessly weird errors that can happen during data migration. Overall, it’s surprisingly easy for your data to get “dirty.”

Dirty data is more than an annoyance or inconvenience. One snippet of bad data can create wildly inaccurate forecasts and deeply misleading reports. And it can result in an endless variety of headaches—in everything from payroll to inventory. If you want to harness the power for the data in your ERP or CRM, that data needs to be as accurate as possible.

Cleaning your CRM or ERP data may seem like a daunting task, particularly if you have hundreds of thousands of records in your system. But fortunately, most of this work can be automated. Once you clean your data, it’s important to practice good data hygiene. This practice allows you to leverage the full potential of your data as your company grows.

  1. Invest in Implementation Planning

By the time most companies decide to commit to a new CRM or ERP solution, the problems they need to solve have become intimidatingly huge. Their patchwork of old processes, disconnected software tools, and hacked-together workflows may already be failing. So they need an urgent fix.

As a result, they usually want to get through the planning stages as quickly as possible. That’s a bad idea for a lot of reasons, and the biggest casualty tends to be the company’s data. Unlocking that data for future use often involves untangling the problems that arise during a rushed design stage.

A well-planned ERP or CRM doesn’t just store the company’s data. After all, these solutions are more than just glorified spreadsheets and databases. In a well-designed implementation, a CRM or ERP can provide real-time insights on every aspect of the business. It’s not just a matter of having a CRM that can generate sales forecasts (which is pretty basic). Rather, it means making use of all available data.

To deliver deep insights, you need a system that’s designed to fully utilize your company’s custom data sets, marketing and sales processes, operational workflows, and other systems. There’s no one-size-fits-all method for creating these insights and tools during the implementation process. Every company has unique needs.

To generate exceptional results from your company’s data, you need to put the supporting frameworks  in place during the planning stage. This step may seem like a delay in the implementation process, but it’s not. Rather, it creates a strong foundation for the future of your company’s data.

What about companies that already have a working CRM or ERP solution? Is it possible to retrofit these solutions onto them? Absolutely. But to take advantage of the data you already have, it’s imperative for you to take a cautious approach as you build new processes and workflows.

  1. Use New Tools for Old Data

Your data is way more valuable than you may realize. Every scrap of information you collect about your customers, partners, and prospects matters. Every sales report, website visit, or inventory update has hidden potential. Why? Because we’re entering a new age of machine learning and AI, where even the most obscure trends and patterns can result in substantial boosts to efficiency and revenue. However, you need to have the right data to be able to take advantage of these new tools.

Consider the value of virtual assistants for customer service. When a customer calls in with a problem, an AI can instantly scan through its customer history and automatically identify potential issues. By simply analyzing his or her purchase history, the AI assistant can anticipate that the customer likely needs a replacement part.

The AI could even identify the part number, draft a purchase order, and update the warranty agreement. By the time the customer is connected with a human customer service rep, most of the time-consuming grunt work has been done. The result? Faster call times, more satisfied customers, and greatly reduced costs.

Sounds great, right? It is, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can reuse your current data in countless ways. It can improve outcomes at every turn. Of course, these technologies are only as useful as the data they have access to. If you want to future-proof your business, you need to invest in the right data-management solutions today.

To learn more about building the right solutions for managing your company’s data, contact Faye for a free consultation.