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As a busy business owner or manager, it can be hard to find time to look at the bigger picture. Management information is available to collect throughout your business and if you make use of it, it can provide insight and even inspiration for ways to improve your business!

Are you collecting management information?

First, you need to make sure that you identify every possible point at which data is - or could be - collected. To identify these, spend a little time mapping out your internal and external business processes and decide for each point of possible data collection, are you capturing that data or do you need to put additional processes in place to ensure that data is collected and stored?

Remember that data can be on external aspects of your business - for example: sales, website visits and customer data or it can be on internal aspects of your business - for example: financial data, personnel data and order processing times.

Worked Example: Jill sells jewellery through her website. Jill has been mapping her processes and has realised that she doesn’t know how long the time period is between when an order is placed and when the jewellery has been hand made and processed for shipping. She implements an internal order tracking system that tracks each order starting from when it is received on the website, through each stage of the production process (raw materials, assembly etc.) and then through processing where it is packaged and labelled ready for shipping.

Are you receiving reports on this information?

So, now you can be sure that you’re collecting the information in your business. But are you pulling this data out from where it’s stored? If you can, it’s a good idea to customise your reporting activities so that instead of pulling out all of the data you’ve collected and having to manually review all of it, you’re only reporting on data you’re interested in and going some way towards analysing trends or notable items.

Worked Example: Jill has arranged to receive a bespoke report from her internal order tracking system which shows her the average order processing times during each stage of production and any notable fast or slow orders.

Are you analysing the information?

During reporting, you may have been able to complete some basic analysis of the data (e.g. are sales up or down compared to previous periods, are there greater amounts of staff absence etc.). Now you should aim to dedicate some time to understanding your data. Data plus context equals information! For outliers and trends that you can see, can you explain them? And can you describe the impact on your business?

Worked Example: Jill can see from her report that orders of bracelets made from teal beads takes an additional 3 hours in production (on average) compared to other bracelets. This is often meaning that these orders miss the deadline for next day delivery.

Are you responding to the information?

Once you have information that tells you what’s happening in your business and you’ve understood why, it’s time to consider what your next move is! Even if you have a trend that will have a positive impact on your business (e.g. more sales), you need to consider knock-on effects if the trend was to continue for further periods. For example, for more demand, would you need more staff and other resources to meet that demand?

Worked Example: Jill needed to investigate further. After speaking to the team on the production line, Jill discovered that the teal beads were more difficult than all other beads to thread onto the bracelets and that was what was causing the delays. Jill began work on sourcing samples of new teal beads that she could use instead and in the meantime, put a note on all products featuring the teal beads so that her customers would be aware of longer order processing times before ordering.

Collecting, reporting on, analysing and acting on management information can help you to troubleshoot issues, improve customer service and experience and identify ways to save time and money.

Here at Centu, we can build bespoke reporting systems that can hook into your existing software so that you can make the most of your management information. We also build bespoke software for businesses, including customised reporting features. To find out more or to arrange a free half day scoping session, call 0161 871 7429 or email hello@centu.co.uk.

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