You can’t blame the office anymore.
Garbage in, garbage out: it’s cliché but true. Sure, information is great, but only if it’s accurate and in a report that people can use. We all know that inaccurate reporting creates problems—the biggest of which is distrust. It’s not just distrust of the numbers (the report is useless), it’s distrust of management (see bottom: KITD FOHS). That is a far worse problem.
Accurate reporting provides visibility (you can’t manage what you can’t see), but visibility is useful only when the data is accurate. Reports are based on information. Information is based on data. Data is based on data entry. This is where distrust in reporting starts—at the data entry source.
How Data Entry Can Kill Trust
In traditional “accounting-centric” software systems, the office has to integrate spreadsheets, paper, and often a few unconnected applications to generate the data that becomes information for reporting. It is the office that deciphers, interprets and re-enters data created by others. And even when they are not the data source, they can be held accountable for reports nobody seems to trust. This is very frustrating for them because it is not easy work and often leads to a situation where everyone else maintains their own data and information from their own trusted reports. Not a recipe for teamwork—as you have probably experienced.
Can this situation be changed? Today’s integrated software systems can change this by removing the office from most of the data deciphering, interpreting and data-entry steps. With this software, sales and operations (the field) are instantly doing the data entry with every transaction they create, review and approve, like these basic transactions:
- Time sheet
- Work order
- Purchase order, etc. (See chart below.)
This is one reason why you invest in mobile-integrated software: less administrative data handling delivers more accurate information. Information becomes the responsibility of the field, not just the office. This is a big change for many companies, and the transition can be painful.
Another reason you invest in mobile-integrated software is to build teamwork—the kind where everyone takes responsibility for what shows up on reports. This is essential to realizing the strategic promises of better service and more efficiency that integrated software provides.
Visibility (reporting) requires accountability (transaction management) so information on reports can be trusted. It is the common responsibility of the field and the office to make this happen. If the numbers seem incorrect, look no further than the way data is being managed in your company. That’s where it starts.
Is it as simple as that? Yes!
Trusting numbers and management starts with integrated workflow and data discipline—this is best practice. Otherwise: Garbage in, garbage out.
During the Vietnam War, there was an American Air Force intelligence unit that believed they were providing critical battle plans to field commanders. In fact, they were providing disinformation over open channels for the Viet Cong to intercept—feeding them bogus information during the lead-up to the Son Tay Prison raid. There’s no problem with this tactic in war, but the odd part was that the unit was completely unaware that the intel they were relaying was fake. Of course, when they found out, they were not happy. Responding to their situation with humor, they designed a special unit patch for their uniforms (a pair of eyes looking up from under a mushroom cap) to describe their specialized mission:
KITD FOHS—Kept in the Dark, Fed Only Horse Sh**.