Even if you operate a small business, there’s a lot of information that must be tracked. Think of the data that you accumulate as a new customer comes on board. There’s the information needed for a basic client profile, including billing data like purchase orders, client and matter numbers, or cost codes that must be applied to each of those orders. Histories of interactions of those clients with must also be part of the picture, including information about payment histories. Even things like tracking supply inventories and usage matters.
That’s where the concept of a centralized reporting system comes into the picture. By being able to draw on different types of data, you have the ability to create reports that provide a snapshot of whatever company activity you need at present. There are several other reasons why this approach will help you save time and money. Here are a few examples to consider.
Think of how much time is spent entering the same data into multiple systems. There’s no way around it, because some data is needed for more than one type of report. That means customer contact information and billing histories could reside in the database used by the accounting department, in the sales database, and maybe even the database used by the customer service and support team.
With some type of centralized database, you only have to enter a specific bit of data one time. That frees your employees to focus their efforts on activities that help grow your business. By using the login credentials and privileges to limit access to data that is relevant to each person’s responsibilities, you empower each one to take care of tasks and still remain in control of who can see what.
Many systems for centralized reporting make it easy to track how employees utilize the information they are allowed to access. This is good for you, since it makes it possible to know who is creating reports about the ordering habits of your largest customer, or how much time employees are spending entering new data or preparing reports for upcoming meetings. In terms of measuring productivity, this approach is hard to beat.
Keep in mind the ability to see who is accessing what and how often has another benefit. If there is some suspicion that proprietary information is being used for anything other than the good of the company, you as the owner have the ability to find out if someone seems to be creating certain reports a little too often. That would allow you to investigate and possibly bring a close to the data leak.
Your most lucrative client has an issue and there’s a real chance of losing that customer. In order to deal with that issue, you must access a great deal of data, including customer service records, ordering histories, delivery details, and pricing information. If all that information is spread out over several databases, this means printing a lot of reports and having to manually create a report to encompass all the relevant information.
Think of how much easier it would be to utilize a centralized reporting system and create a report that has everything you need. It will take a fraction of the time to use a report layout that has all the essential fields, and have the information in hand sooner rather than later. Being able to address the customer issue quickly improves the odds of finding a solution now and not providing a competitor with the chance to enter the picture and lure the client away.
With a fully integrated data system, training new employees on how to utilize the system will be much easier. There’s no need to create login credentials for several different databases, or walk the employee through the ways to find information in each one. The centralized approach means there is one database to master. That will speed up the orientation and training process, and allow the employee to begin taking on tasks sooner rather than later.
Most databases come with sets of basic report layouts that are relevant to the type of data stored in those systems. Many will also allow users with certain permissions to create custom reports. That may or may not be something you want to happen.
The nice thing about using a centralized database is that you have complete control over the report layouts. If the layouts that come with the system meet all your needs, it’s easy enough to ensure that only those formats may be used. Should you have one or two employees that will need to create customized reports in order to manage their assigned responsibilities, you have the control to allow the creation of those formats. Taking things one step further, you can set the controls so only those employees can see those customized formats and have the ability to select them for the generation of reports. Other employees who are not granted those options will never know the custom layouts exist.
While all your databases reside on the same server, each one would still require separate maintenance and upkeep. Choosing to go with an integrated database simplifies the process of upkeep and support. Your Information Technology team can spend more time on other aspects of your network and still have plenty of time to run diagnostics and handle updates to the centralized database. There’s also more time to ensure that your data is safe, always backed up, and easy for employees with the right permissions to access when they need to help a customer with a question or concern.
There are other reasons that a centralized approach to data organization and reporting is in your best interests. Talk with an expert today and explore what this type of system would do for your business. After running some simulations and seeing what this type of approach can do, choosing to move forward with the implementation will not be a difficult decision.