Is Your Data Working for You-Part 1
Easy steps to getting your data organized and easy to manage

First of all, what is data?

Data is information. Any kind of information.

A database is what is used to house the data. It is where you keep the data to keep it organized.

  • Do you have a cookbook? It is a database of recipes.
  • Do you have a folder of business receipts that need to inputted into your accounting software? That folder is a database of receipts to be entered. And then, your accounting software becomes a database of receipts you have already entered.
  • Do you have a to-do list? That’s a database of things you need to do.
  • Your calendar is a database of all your appointments.
  • Do you have a spreadsheet of names and addresses? It’s a database.
  • You get the idea.

The problem is all databases are not created equal. Some are efficient. Some are not.

And not all companies use the same kind of data.

And, to make matters even more complicated, how you use your data could be completely different than the company down the street that uses the same kind of data.

So, what to do? What is the easiest way to get your data to work for you in a way that makes sense to you?

The answer is, there probably isn’t an easy way. But there are ways to make it easier.

Here are some steps to follow to make working with your data easier.

  1. Know what you need out of your data.
    • Are you wanting year over year sales analysis?
    • Do you need to track quotas?
    • What about inventory balances?
    • Do you need to know how many hours it takes for all employees in a certain region to finish a project?
    • How about expenses by person or region or month, etc.?

Think about the reports and charts you would like to see.

By taking a good look at what you need out of your data, you can better determine how to get that data.

  1. Know where the data you need is currently housed.
    • Do you have a practice management software system?
    • How about a CRM you use for clients?
    • Is there an HR system you use?
    • Are there stacks of paperwork you need to sift through to get the data? Such as time cards or invoices or receipts?

Make a list of the data you need and where it is currently housed.

Once you know all the different places you are storing the data you need, you can start to bring it together.

  1. Collect only the data you need for your end result.
    • If your practice management software allows you to create your own reports (some do, some don’t), create a report or two with just the data you need.
    • If your practice management software has canned reports (most do), find the reports you need that has the data you want. The report(s) may have more data than you need, but that’s ok for now.
    • If you have stacks of paperwork with the data you need (and it isn’t in some sort of software) then pull it all together in one place.
    Most people have their data all over the place so if you do too, it’s ok.

If your data is all over the place, then make a list of what is housed where. It’ll be easier for data input later.

In part 2 I will discuss the next steps:

  1. Create a data management system.
  2. Determine the process needed to get the data into the data management system.
  3. Automate the process

Until the next post,
~Live life, not work!