Is scattered information destroying your business?

Scattered and unorganised information can have a significant impact on businesses, resulting in inefficient processes, a waste of business time and money, and decisions being made on incomplete data.

Therefore what do businesses need to do to combat this burden and positively impact growth?

The source of scattered information

Two decades ago the average business worked with a pretty simple system for managing information. An office with no more than five or six employees would place documents in each other’s in-tray, complete the tasks and move onto the next job. Now and then the telephone would ring, the call would be noted and any potential action would be allocated and completed.

However, with the advent of modern technology the work environment has completely shifted. Now employees are facing 60-100 emails per day, colleagues who aren’t office based, SMS messages, tweets, images, you name it. However the system for managing this information has barely changed over the years and is now completely failing.

This has caused information within businesses to be scattered across different devices, different apps and systems, on different servers, in the cloud and in many cases just on a piece of paper and in someone’s head. It has become unmanageable and is causing data to become a hindrance to businesses, rather than an enabler for growth. Employees are therefore confronted with information from everywhere and have to find their own system for managing it.

Business impact

Scattered information is an issue felt by many businesses. As a result, some try to create ad-hoc processes for their particular office or department but it has little effect on the wider problem.

All this scattered data is therefore leading to a range of growing problems for businesses. Some may just be losing time as employees search for lost information, some are losing profits due to missed revenue opportunities, while some may even be risking their customer satisfaction by having incomplete information available when it is most needed.

The impact can also be felt by the employees themselves. Most are likely to be frustrated by inefficient process, which could potentially lead to reduced job satisfaction and the possibility of employee talent, and the information they have in their head, moving onto a rival organisation.

So what can be done?

Businesses must consolidate all their information. By implementing a central system to manage data and enable clear processes to be formed, businesses can begin to effectively manage internal and external information.

However, businesses must consider what system to implement, particularly given the continually changing ways of working. Today a significant number of employees either work from home or are field-based. The modern employee is mobile, they are not tied to a desk, but equipped with a laptop, tablet and smart phone and able to work wherever, whenever they need to.

This means businesses must find a system that can operate independently of an office and is accessible on the go.

A recent FileMaker study has shown many organisations are turning to custom apps to reduce inefficiency and increase productivity. Apps enable employees and customers to securely access vital information at any time, from any place and extend mission-critical business processes far beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. The difference with custom apps is they are created to meet the unique business needs of a team or organisation; working across various devices, desktops and mobile, to service the modern worker.

There was a time when custom app development was out of reach for small and mid-sized businesses, but that time has passed. Today it can be faster and less expensive to build a custom app from scratch than to buy and try to customise off-the-shelf software.

The study in question highlighted how 81 per cent of businesses had reported that custom apps reduced inefficient tasks, with a further 74 per cent stating they increased team productivity.

This demonstrates that businesses are facing a problem with scattered information but have decided to tackle the problem directly; implementing central systems to ensure the business is aimed more towards growth.

It is an approach we all need to follow to ensure scattered information is not having a negative impact on business productivity and limiting potential for growth. It may seem daunting, but if you find a solution that fits the unique needs of the business, works across multi platforms and easily integrates with existing systems, it’s pretty straight forward.

Kieran Saunders, senior business solutions consultant, FileMaker

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