How to Retrieve Data for Better Business Decisions

 In Best Practices, Blog

Retrieve data with ease to make better decisions.

A company’s strategic decisions rise and fall on the richness of its data — and on its ability to access that data.

No matter how extensive the data your systems collect, it’s functionally useless unless you can organize it into metrics that drive corporate planning tools like KPIs.

Deep dives into available data make solving performance problems a matter of analyzing cause and effect. Access to a broad range of accurate, thorough datasets gives you insight into factors that are already impeding your business processes or may do so in the future. 

So how do you access the data that will afford you such granular level of insight into the overall health of your business?

Retrieve data from the source.

Where are you getting your data from, and how?

Using a third-party solution to retrieve data or manually entering data into a separate system runs the risk of compiling bad information. 

Data accessed outside a core system can suffer from inaccuracy because of: 

  • Inconsistencies among ecommerce platforms
  • Changes that occur after the data was pulled 
  • Duplicate data pulled from individual items listed on multiple  storefronts
  • Input errors

Retrieve your data straight from the heart of your operational software to ensure that it’s trustworthy.

A quick word of warning: If your core system makes it difficult to pull the data you need, it could be a sign that you’re beginning to outgrow your current platform. If you find your solution isn’t equipped to scale with your business, it might be time to start looking for a system that won’t inhibit growth.  

Know what data you’re looking for.

Half the journey to finding the data you need is deciding what you’re looking for in the first place. If you want a list of your top customers, you’re not going to search your vendor list to find the answer. Having a specific question in mind when retrieving data will help you find the most accurate results.

The hunt for good data starts with either a question you want to answer or problem you want to solve. The more specific you make your question, the more intricate detail you can find in your data retrieval. Even though, “How many sales did Jim make last month?” and, “How many widgets did Jim sell last month?” are related questions, the answers may paint two different pictures.

For example, Jim might have made 1,000 sales last month, but only sold 10 widgets. If the company in this scenario were trying to unload excess inventory of widgets, it might want to hold Jim accountable for his focus, even though his overall performance was strong.

Using a third-party solution to retrieve data or manually entering data into a separate system runs the risk of compiling bad information. 

Understanding the question you wish to answer will determine the outcome of the data you retrieve. This might sound obvious, but too often the lack of a specific questions leads to the return of data that doesn’t truly help make a decision.

Track the necessities.

Having easy access to large amounts of data is great, but “less is more” applies to data retrieval, too. Don’t let too much data get in the way of clear visibility.

Instead of analyzing every available data point, prioritize the metrics most aligned with your business objectives (such as production costs instead of website traffic). If you aren’t sure what to track, build a hierarchy of metrics that best align with your objectives, and work your way down ladder.

Most ERP solutions come with pre-configured reports. These can run the gamut from incredibly useful to a waste of space. Just because it’s an easy option doesn’t mean it’s the right report for your company. Make sure you thoroughly understand each pre-configured report in your ERP solution before relying on it to make critical business decisions. 

When looking at a pre-configured report in your ERP solutions, ask:

  • What are the parameters of the report, and can they be adjusted?
  • What datasets is the report using?
  • Is there other pertinent business data that isn’t present in this report?
  • Can I view the report in a different format? For instance, can I switch from columns or rows to a pie chart?

Once you’ve verified that your data is coming from the right places and you can trust that it’s up-to-date, it’s time to put it in action.

Make the decision.

When you trust your data, all that’s left is to put it to use. Starting with the source, asking specific questions, and focusing on the business goal drives better data retrieval — and better decision making.

To see what easy, powerful data retrieval could look like for your business, sign up for a personal demo. We’d love to connect with you and answer any questions you may have. 

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