USE DATA TO ACCELERATE YOUR ORDER-TO-CASH PROCESS
The data you collect on your business has the ability to transform the way you operate, but only if you know you can trust it. While gathering data is undeniably important, gathering the right data is even more critical. You don’t want to waste time poring over statistics that don’t give you the information you need to improve, and numbers that aren’t accurate are no good to anybody.
It’s all about collecting the best information to answer questions about the performance of your business. When you make decisions using the right data, you’ll quickly achieve gains in your operational efficiency.
How does good data speed up order-to-cash?
Let’s say you’re able to gather reliable data on your picked orders. Historically, you’ve been quite happy with your warehouse efficiency, but every now and then, it’s good to do an audit.
Once you take a look at the data, you’re surprised to discover a high error rate when picking orders. You dig a little deeper and realize that implementing a change to your workflow would address this issue. You take the necessary steps to fix it, which naturally results in fewer errors in the picking process. Correcting these errors leads to greater efficiency, and therefore, to increased profits for you and your company.
Without access to quality data, this improvement to your business’s overall health wouldn’t have been possible. And even if you don’t see an obvious problem with your company’s performance, good data will show you where a little extra attention might be needed. Unless you’re running a perfectly efficient company (call us if you are!), there are always areas for improvement.
How do you know what info you need?
The data you collect will depend on the questions about your business that you’re trying to answer. Need to know the profit you’ve made on certain items over a period of time? Inventory tracking information will be your best friend. Want to see how much you spent on supplies for your packaging operations and who you bought it from? Detailed vendor and cost data will show you just what you need.
Of course, these are only a few examples of the sorts of questions you should be able to answer. Depending on your company’s current mission, there’s likely several questions you’re hoping to answer. No problem, there. This means there’s going to be multiple datasets that you track in order to make informed decisions.
How to collect good company data
This might seem like the most challenging step in this entire process, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. The data you can retrieve is entirely dependent on your software solution. If the software suite you use doesn’t grant access to critical info, you’ll lack the ability to make informed decisions.
Now, choosing the right software suite is a complex task with many factors to take into consideration, but access to company data is one of the most important elements to keep top-of-mind when evaluating any business software solution. If your current software doesn’t allow you to run a variety of reports designed to give you key business data in a useful format, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
What to do with your data
Now that you’ve harvested all that information, it’s time for some good old-fashioned data analysis. This is the fun part.
Simply gathering the information isn’t enough. You need to invest some quality time into taking a careful look at what the data has to say about how your business is performing. With reliable data, you’ll be able to observe how your company has changed over time, and even make estimated guesses about where your industry is headed. Yes, you can predict the future with quality data analysis.
Data analysis is an acquired skill that is worth an investment, whether that’s a couple of crash courses for yourself, training for your current employees, or a new hire. And, like most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to data analytics. A quick glance at an Excel sheet is not going to give you the same valuable insights as a solid investigation into all that the data has to offer.
Once you’ve identified trends, strengths, and weaknesses, it’s time to apply this knowledge by making the appropriate changes. For example, if you find things are actually going better than you thought (and we hope that’s the case), maybe you want to reallocate resources from your smoother operations to an area where things aren’t going so smoothly.
And on the other hand, when your data reveals that you’ve got a glaring issue, now you know enough to take action and remedy the problem. The decisions you make for your company are only as good as the info you retrieve. Why not enable better decision-making to be sure your data is as good as possible?
In order to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced environment, you need to get on the data train. Intelligent information analysis will not only help your distribution company continue to grow and keep up with the competition, but will give you an edge when it comes to predicting where the industry is headed.
And if you need a hand figuring out exactly what information you should be collecting to optimize growth, send us a message. We love helping businesses make their distribution operations radically better.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Custom Information Services. Learn more about CIS at customis.com.