You are not alone in the struggle to find an effective data management solution, so stop beating yourself up and breath a sigh of relief. Many organizations are working to get a handle on their data in order to reap the many benefits of an effective program including:
- Streamlining operations
- Forecasting future activities
- Enhancing value proposition
- Increasing new business generated
There are many factors at play when it comes to structuring an effective data management program. In order to find a solution that’s right for you, it’s important to have a firm understanding of the barriers that you need to overcome. Let’s look at four common barriers that we have consistently come across and offer some practical ideas to address them.
1. Poor data collection due to lack of user participation.
Time is of the essence, so asking the right questions is a critical step to ensuring a successful program. Only ask your stakeholders to invest time in providing the most essential data points and eliminate any “nice to haves.” Long forms and questionnaires often dissuade stakeholder participation because they won’t know the answers to many of the questions or may have provided the information already via another system. Because their time is valuable, they’ll make the decision that their time is better spent elsewhere.
Avoid stakeholder fatigue by auditing systems to identify what data points can be sourced from existing platforms to avoid the common problem of stakeholders providing redundant information across various systems and teams. This keeps stakeholders focused on providing only the most critical and relevant data points and increases the likelihood of their participation by streamlining data collection efforts.
2. Data inconsistency and inability to retrieve meaningful results.
Once you’ve decided what data points to collect, it’s critical to build structure around the data. Without structure you set the table for inconsistent and unusable data. Make decisions upfront so those contributing don’t have to. Should the response be formatted as numbers or text? Do you want contributors to select from a clean pre-defined list or have the freedom to enter their own list items? Are you looking for a yes/no response, instead of a paragraph? Take great consideration in how to best structure your data as it helps ensure that you collect clean data. In the end this will increase the usability of the database when sorting, searching, and filtering data.
3. Inability to track and store preferences and attachments in a central location.
Just as it’s important to make the best use of the time invested by internal stakeholders, it’s even more critical to be sensitive to the time invested by clients and other external stakeholders. Evaluate the importance of tracking key elements that are often requested but not easily or consistently retrievable.
Items organizations may consider tracking and storing for external client stakeholders include:
- Engagement letters
A few examples for internal stakeholders may include:
- A Partner’s alternative biography summary
- Proposal/presentation format preferences,
- Internal communication preferences
Proactively tracking these items and storing in a central location allows for quick and easy retrieval across teams, and also eliminates the dreaded task of having to go back to internal or external stakeholders to ask them to provide information again because you can’t seem to locate it.
4. Time-Consuming Process of Transferring Data to Designed Presentations and Proposals.
There it is again, that time factor. Most organizations struggle with connecting their data points to their customer-facing content – such as tombstones, biographies, or firm and practice overviews. Usually teams are requested to provided complete proposals on short turn-around times, so integrating your data with your design preferences is ideal, especially for lean organizations. Platforms that generate results within seconds would provide the greatest value as it eliminates the hours it may take to copy, paste, format and organize data that must be transferred across multiple systems and design tools.
Overcoming these common barriers can set organizations on the right path toward an effective data collection and management program. The right technology platform can lead to data that can be leveraged strategically to run your teams more proficiently, and help your organization be first to market to showcase your experience and track records to new business opportunities.