The Challenges with ‘One Source’

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It is confusing when one has to deal with multiple sources of information. Frustration abounds in sorting out the gaps between inconsistent data. There are risks with decision-making based on inaccurate information. The end outcome could impact the business negatively. It is ideal to be able to secure a single source for reliable and easily accessible information, but it is not always an easy task.

It is ideal to be able to secure a single source for reliable and easily accessible information, but it is not always an easy task. Click To Tweet

For many businesses, there are three areas where they can better leverage their assets through ‘one source.’

  1. Data captured in systems

With the rapid adoption of technology, there is an inevitable need to work with duplicate data residing in multiple applications. Data warehouse and data mart have made it easier for businesses to establish an archive for data. However, the challenge remains in determining the record of truth. Inconsistent use of an application and creative choices opted to bastardize functionality create havoc. Subsequently, the data captured might be different from what is expected.

There are two ways to overcome this. First, review the applications and identify the best source that provides the most consistent, complete and accurate data. Make realistic assumptions to account for known gaps. Second, examine the use of each application in question. Streamline practices and re-train users to enforce uniformity. This facilitates consistency in the data captured going forward.

  1. Internal communication

The numerous options for internal communication have increased the complexity in keeping information current. Businesses distribute information via email, newsletter, news story, job aid, and the intranet. Usually, varying amounts of detail presented in different formats are used in each vehicle. At the same time, individuals have diverse habits in archiving information relevant to them. Some choose to print the information or save it in a personal folder. Others create a summary that serves as a cheat sheet and post it in a visible location for future reference. The biggest problem with these habits is dated information.

This is no easy solution but to drive discipline on information lookup from the most up-to-date source. Make it super easy for the users to locate the information so that they won’t need to create their own information archive or tool. In addition, understand the workflow that requires the information lookup. For instance, a contact center rep toggles between screens of information in order to address the questions from a caller. It might sound simple enough but it could be frustrating. Hence, a sticky cheat sheet with dated information is posted by the computer monitor. Instead, provide a second monitor or a larger one that allows split screens so that the rep can have the information at-a-glance. This will ensure that she will retrieve the latest information on demand.

  1. Expertise

There are always experts who are the go-to persons when there are issues. It is comforting to be able to count on these experts, but it could be devastating for the business when these experts leave or are not available.

To minimize the reliance on experts, document as much as possible the know-how related to processes, policies and rules. Train employees to use the documentation. This also frees up the experts to attend to their priorities. In addition, have a program to develop rising stars as part of succession planning. It is a good business practice and an excellent way to retain talent.

Attaining ‘one source’ is advantageous but it also involves changing habits. It will take time and people are reluctant to make the leap unless the change makes their work easier.

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