Growing businesses increase the need to store more data but the problem that often arises, for many different reasons, is that businesses will have different storage methods and places for different types of data. Generally, the Excel spreadsheet has become the standard for growing businesses and resides on someone’s laptop, because the data is immediately accessible to that person. The concern at this point is how much efficiency your business sacrifices by not having critical data easily accessible across the organization. The question for solving then becomes, how can you consolidate or quickly access so many different types of data when needed?
Why You Need to Consolidate Data Storage
While there are numerous reasons scattered data storage makes productive business harder, here are the main ones to consider:
Where is it?
How often do you or your employees waste precious time trying to find where certain information can be found? The more data that is required for the completion of a project, the more time is spent trying to track down all the pieces. If time is money, a lot of money is being lost in this process.
The more spread out your data is, the more difficult it is to keep tabs on how secure any one part of it is. Decentralized data is unsecured data. It’s impossible to secure it all even if you hire dedicated staff to spend their day working to ensure security. Isolated data stored on someone’s laptop is a major security concern for all organizations.
Reliable Retrieval Issues
In order to keep your business running smoothly, employees and other systems need to be able to access all data elements easily and ideally without manual processes. When different storage places are involved, you risk that at least one is going to be down or unavailable when you need it. With everything so scattered, it becomes difficult to get everything integrated and running smoothly. Data from decentralized systems can be retrieved and integrated, but centralizing it is generally much more efficient.
Data that is spread out across the organization becomes unreliable as there are many different versions of the truth. For instance, sales or forecasting Information stored locally in one person’s Excel spreadsheet will never be the same as information in the financial system. Companies spend countless hours trying to reconcile disparate data, trying to figure out which information is actually correct. They may never know “the truth” which creates extreme challenges for quarterly and annual reporting and makes it nearly impossible to get an accurate understanding of how the business is performing. Systems integration and centralized data storage will improve the accuracy of your data.
Backup and Retrieval
One of the best ways to make sure your data doesn't become lost or can be retrieved if something occurs to corrupt it is to perform a regular backup. When data storage is scattered, backups are done at different times and it is possible that some storage places are overlooked when it is time to back it up. With centralized storage, backup on all data is done at the same time, ensuring that you are consistently accessing the latest information in every area. It is much easier to avoid losing some data when it is all together.
Now that you have an idea of how much smoother your business would run, how do you find a centralized storage solution that will work with all your data? This is where custom software enters the picture.
Custom Software and Consolidated Data Storage
Once you decide it is best for your business to consolidate its data or solidify the integration of isolated data, you need to sit down with a custom software developer and figure out what is necessary to store and access each type of data. The developer then works with you and the end-users who have to access this data to design a retrieval and storage method that makes the most sense. For example, is there always a need for data A when data B is retrieved? If so, then you need the data retrieval portion of the software to react to that need. This is done for the various situations that occur regularly. Once the software developer gains a full understanding of what data is involved and what its security, retrieval and backup requirements are, they need to decide how the storage and integration software will fit into your current environment. It won't work if your current systems and the new software don't work well together. The developing team then works on the software creation. Once the design has been developed, testing is done to make sure the software works as intended. Any needed adjustments are made and eventually the software is integrated into your environment. No longer will there be isolated, unsecured and inaccurate data within your organization. Because the end users were part of the process, including input and feedback, training may not be needed.
Now that all your data is centralized or integrated and you have easy access to everything you need, when you need it, you will see a change in your daily business dealings. You will notice greater productivity over time. You may also notice an increase in employee satisfaction as each one faces less stress in this one area. This will gradually expand into all other areas of your business. Once you find out how much of a difference this piece of custom software makes, you may start to see other areas of your business that can benefit from customized software. It’s worth the time, effort and cost involved.