Is your data worth tracking? This is a question about the quality and integrity of your data – its accuracy, completeness, and fit with your use cases. And it’s an important question to consider, because low quality data can mean that your business insights are ill-informed. I’ve covered some of these points in my posts on clean data and data classification. In this post, I’m going to focus on how standard operating procedures, or SOPs for short, can help you improve the quality and integrity of both your data and your business insights.
If you sit down and really think about the type of data associated with you as a person, most of that data will probably be communications-based, that is, all of that “stuff” that you generate or consume in the course of communicating with others via email, social media, etc. In this post, I’m going to focus just on email-based communications.
It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of spending a lot of time filtering through your email, or getting to the point where you have 1,000+ unread messages, because you just don’t have time or energy to even delete all the ones you don’t really care about or to “do something” with the ones you want to come back to later. Most tips on dealing with this overwhelm glut will focus on things like filters, folders, and labels as your solution, and those things can be really handy. Even so, your real problem could be that you don’t have enough email addresses.
In today’s world, we’ve digitized almost everything, including our invoicing and payment systems. Even so, when we don’t support our data flows with an underlying structure, it can be easy to introduce costly human errors. I recently worked with a training client who was using an electronic payment voucher form, but the form still required manual (i.e., typed) data entry for all line item calculations and total calculations. I happened to be around to witness an incident in which the person filling out the form added an extra zero to the final total of the form. That’s the difference between $9,000 and $90,000. Yikes!! Below, I list three (3) simple ways this client and others can create forms so folks can better screen for and prevent this type of error.
This post builds on my previous post on templates: Templates, Audit Trails, and Client Confidentiality.
I’ll assume that you’ve created a series of template files to support your business flow, standardize your documents in a professional-looking way, and maintain client confidentiality.
In this post, I’ll discuss a couple of ways you can make sure they’re collected together in a way that makes them easy to find and easy to use.
A few months ago, I was the client of another business person. At the close of our business, this person sent me a standard business letter (i.e., date, name/address, subject, salutation, body) with the intent of summing up the transaction. A quick review of this letter made obvious that the business person had opened a previous client’s letter with the intention of using it as a template, but had forgotten to change anything other than my name and address at the top; the information contained in the remainder of the letter was enough to piece together who that other client had been and the exact nature of their business transaction. This oversight/blunder poses a problem in three key areas: the audit trail of the project, client confidentiality, and professionalism. A minor process change could address and alleviate all three.