As I’ve been putting together a SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) executive meeting presentation, it made me think about data mining. In this case, there is very little information available – in comparison to other clients, the ability to retrieve information is in the bottom 20%, yet I was still able to put it together. Thus, it made me think about a few tips:
1. Base reports: So long as the company uses a system, there will be some data you can access. Even the worst case scenarios, which make the ERP experts shudder, have untapped information. Find it.
2. Manual information: I’ve yet to go into a client who didn’t track some sort of information. True, it is often too much of the wrong information; however, they are tracking something. Find those people and understand what they track.
3. Accounting: Again, every company has to have financials. Thus, worst case, start with the Accounting team. They might be leery to provide it but if you involve them in the process, you’ll likely be successful.
4. Track it yourself – To get ballpark estimates for some metrics, you can take a sampling approach and go out and track it yourself.
5. Report writer – Every system (even the most fundamental and surprisingly inexpensive ones I’ve seen for smaller companies) have some sort of report writer or the capability to integrate with a report writer such asCrystal Reports. Pursue this path!
6. Hire IT experts – I’ve seen countless times where folks who are good at retrieving data can glean information even from the worst systems. At one client, they called him the “Data Ninja”. I loved that term as I’ve run into data ninjas at many clients (although I have to agree, he was the best!), and those who don’t have one can bring on a temporary Access expert or SQL expert etc.