Having quality information about your business is vital to its success. Being able to quantify or measure different parts of your business will allow you to quickly and easily identify what is working and what isn’t.
If you’re just starting to collect information about your business you can use the following tips to help you.
1. Start Small
You don’t need a full database system for your business in one go. Pick one area of your business and decide what information is important to you and what you would like to do with it. This could be generating reports/notifications/create letters/emails etc.
2. Keep it Simple
Initially the aim is to have a way of collecting and storing data. It is fine to start off by storing your data in a spreadsheet. Make sure that it is stored as a table e.g. One customer in each row and their first name in one column, surname in another column, phone number in another and so on. Storing it this way will make it relatively easy to add it to a database.
3. Never two versions
Never store two versions of the same data. Have one master copy and consider every other version invalid. For example you should only have one copy of customer details.
4. Have a backup of your data
There is no longer an excuse for not backing up your data. Doing the following will take you minutes. Use software like iDrive – You select the folders/file you want backed up. At a certain time each day IDrive will check your folders and if there are any changes it will back up the latest version onto the internet. Once you’ve installed and set it up it requires no more effort from you. It’s simple, safe and free.
5. A proper database
There is no way around it – if you want to store more than simple unrelated lists(and you almost always will except in the most simplest system) then you will need to move to a proper database(like Microsoft Access). For example if you have a list of customers in a spreadsheet and you want to add customer appointments. In this case your customer list is said to have a relationship with the appointments list. The only way to manage these relationships is with a database.
When you decide to go about collecting data for your business the number of options can be overwhelming. The best thing to do is to start small and simple. Then you can easily grow as your needs become clearer.
For more from Paul Kelly visit www.expertdatabasesolutions.ie