You now have a full-fledged data application on Simitless. One of the benefits that you may not have noticed yet is that this app represents an opportunity. The opportunity I am talking about here is that of centralizing your data, and thereby to collect all the elements that inform your decision-making in one place.
Relying once again on my consulting experience with many professionals, I have seen how all over the place their records can be, making their valuable data well too difficult to use and consult. Moreover, if you work with multiple people, you are more likely than not to encounter another obstacle. We are all different, we have developed our own ways of thinking and methods of working. Due to the differences in our adopted work routines, it is safe to assume that the information necessary for the operation of your business is not updated as systematically as it should be. And it is at this particular moment when you might start suspecting that indeed, the absence of a centralized information system can hinder your business activity.
Maybe this realization can be the trigger to reevaluate your business organization. Maybe it is time to think about unifying and centralizing information to then standardize the practices. It is one of the most glaring shortcomings that I have noticed in my consulting practice – people do not give their action any intention. Granted, they collect information, seek out new tools that they implement one after the other to improve their processes and try to put into practice the pieces of advice they find on the Internet. I, for my part, do not judge their approach. Nor do I preach a particular method or practice. But I strongly recommend starting any modifications, improvements, betterments to the processes within your business by thinking deeply about their purpose, regardless of the methods you wish to opt for.
Think of it this way, adopting heterogeneous practices creates “silos” of data that are in their very essence isolated. These “silos” of data render the information they store difficult to connect. I am strongly convinced that avoiding the emergence of such isolated and, above all, unmapped information silos must be your primary objective, if you aim to run a sustainable business with several employees. Working alone running a small business with a limited volume of information is very different from working with others.
Let’s consider an example of any business having direct dealings with customers. In a customer follow-up scenario, it can be very difficult not to miss some crucial information and thus to miss an opportunity. Think of the last time you have asked a craftsman for a quote. How many times did you have to inquire again, before you finally obtained the desired quote? Or think of that time when you received a duplicate invoice or, even worse, an invoice missing certain elements. Or how about the fifth copy of the same ad campaign? These things happen way too often. Primarily because small businesses lack reliable internal management. (However, same things happen to big businesses as well ...)
Prepare for transition
To make the switch from “siloed” information collection to a centralized information system a success, here is what I generally recommend to prepare the transition:
- First, identify your current maximum number of information silos. Most of the time, the information collected is stored in the form of a spreadsheet file (Excel), of a list of contacts in your mailbox or email software, or even in the form of notes in a physical notebook. In rare cases, the information is collected in some sort of information system, be it an online or a local one. If you work with a physical notebook, the difficulty of information transfer will consist in digitizing your notes, a.k.a. inputting the information into your Simitless application. And depending on the amount of data you managed to amass, it can take quite some time. This is why I do not recommend doing it all at once. Instead, start transferring the information little by little, focusing first of all on the business contacts you have interactions with currently. You can complete your records as the need arises. If we are talking about spreadsheets or similar files, it is often possible to extract the information contained in these files in a CSV format. CSV is the simplest text file format which keeps the data structured to make it readable by the widest number of software. Simitless offers one such software system that enables you to import records from CSV files. The majority of data processing software that are on the market today offer a similar export capability.
- Once the data is transferred, chances are you will have to transform the format of some of them. The Simitless import system provides you with a preview of the imported data on the one hand, and gives different interpretations suggestions regarding your data on the other hand. You can either create a new application from the imported data file or import the data into an already existing application. In the latter case, if the imported file has a data field that is missing from your existing application, you will be given an option to recreate the field during the import process. The newly created field will be automatically added in your application.
- And now to the final step. Once the data is imported into your app, I recommend taking a little time to go through the information in your new system. The information system that you set up on the Simitless platform enables you to define constraints for each data field. For example, you could determine that a contract cannot be defined as ending before the year 1850, or that the duration of a contract cannot exceed 500 days. Imposing such constraints is geared towards faster detection of errors during data entry. With the constraints defined, the mass editing options of Simitless will facilitate the error correction even if errors occur in many records.
Once the information system and its content are set in place, you can start with the final stage of the transfer – integrating the new elements into the workflow of your business. Here, you need to analyze and reflect on the ways that you work every day to create routines that will free you from the mental load of having to remember things to do. The more standardized your repetitive activities, the easier it will be for you and your team to cooperate on the task at hand. These routines or repetitive processes don't have to be complex. On the contrary, it is better to create the simplest possible routines, but to fill them with a specific purpose. For example:
- “Three mornings a week, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., I reach out to potential customers to whom I have sent out a quote but who have not got back to me seven days later.”
- “At the end of the day, all employees enter the hours worked that day via their mobile access.”
- “At the end of each customer visit, all employees input a summary of the carried-out actions and the consumables used (mission report) into the information system.”
- “For each delivery, the driver updates his GPS location so that the central office can follow the progress of the deliveries.”
We have partly covered user integration in the previous article. As a quick reminder: Invite each new user to your app by sending out invitations from your app to their email address and either specify their access rights manually or assign them a predefined rights profile. – Accounts are free and unique on the entire Simitless platform. Each user owns their account and uses it for all of their apps and workspaces.
The simpler the routine, the more straightforward the access to the systems, the less effort following a predefined process requires, the easier the data will be to collect and the fewer errors or gaps in the data there will be.
Following through and implementing the recommendations will get you a flexible, sustainable, real-time collaboration system, tailored to your activity. As a consequence, you will gain the competitive advantage that sets you apart from your competitors.
As a side note: in the future, we, at Simitless, plan to offer regular automatic import systems (synchronization), a duplicate removal system for data records, operational flow systems (process, workflow) as well as a possibility of creating RSS feeds, and even multiple interconnection options via API systems such as IFTTT, Zapier or n8n. Sounds interesting? Contact me for more information! !