As the old saying goes, “You can’t fatten a pig on market day.” So too is it with systems. If you are not ready now, then it is already too late.
With the increased level of business planning and reporting that occurs at the change of the financial year, it is the key time when teams discover just how accurate and complete their business data really is, often exposing flaws in the systems and processes by which it is managed. Incorrect or incomplete data can be a significant barrier in any business.
There is nothing more inefficient and frustrating than starting your reporting and realising that you either don’t have the data you need, or that it’s ‘dirty’ with errors. For those businesses, an annual data review and cleanse is required, taking too much time, costing more money and holding up everything else that relies on it in the meantime. At best, unreliable data wastes time, and at worst, leads to bad decisions.
The only true way to ensure that your business data and information is sufficiently maintained is to make sure that it is used constantly. Treating it as just an end-point repository to be accessed intermittently is just setting yourself up for data failure.
5 ways to keep your data clean
Good data is the light-force behind most successful businesses and maximising your data use keeps it real for everyone. Dirty data costs time and money and there are some key ways to avoid it happening in your team.
- Ensure that there is clear ownership of the data within the business.
Without responsibility for its welfare, data (like almost anything), is likely to become lost, forgotten or something even worse. Determining who ‘owns’ the data will help to ensure that it is properly maintained, or at the very least, those that need it can know who to engage. Determining this will also ensure that the scope of the data is fully defined.
- Give full access to the people that need to use that data anytime, anywhere.
Data ’at rest’ is essentially worthless, it is only how it is used that generates any real value. The people that need it the most should have ubiquitous access to harness and monetise its value. Ultimately they are the ones best placed to know if it is right or not and the more that they can use it, the more that it is tested and verified – so keep it visible.
- Prevent data fragmenting through the business by creating a single centralised source for all users.
Perhaps the greatest risk to data is a lack of control. In a business there can be many reasons why certain information is needed across functions. Planning, reporting, legal & compliance or just for operational matters. Without the appropriate controls in place, you can end up with multiple versions of the truth across the business all being relied upon – what’s called Data Fragmentation, and it’s very hard to resolve quickly or easily.
- Minimise the amount of manual updating and human error.
As an extension of a lack of control over data, the impact of too many humans ‘touching’ the data can be catastrophic to its protection. With source data, there almost always must be some form of human update or intervention and thus sufficiently competent people will always be required. However, when transferring, migrating or maintaining data, operating with more automated processes and less manual handling will significantly prevent it becoming corrupted.
- Develop and document clear processes for how data should be updated
This doesn’t just mean having sufficiently trained users, which shouldn’t even need mentioning. Agreeing and documenting exactly how data should be maintained or updated is about establishing clear business processes, often referred to as protocols.
The first step in setting data management protocols is identifying what is ‘master’ or source data, and what is ‘slave’ or processed data. Knowing the necessary direction or flow of data within your information systems is vital to keeping it constant and accurate.
With this understanding there can then be clear workflows developed for who, when and how the data should be updated. Importantly, if a master data point is to be edited then “Where must this also be reflected or used?”, “Who will it impact or will need to know?” and “Can it be done automatically or does another system need to also be manually updated?”, are all questions to be determined.
As an extension of these key recommendations businesses should also consider that the earlier in their evolution that they can implement effective systems and protocols, the better and easier it will be. The larger an organisation grows, the more data it will generate or require, the more people will need and impact it and the more complex the overall requirements will become.
Utilising LeaseEagle to unlock data-driven benefits
With this in mind, there are also a number of key considerations that Customers might find valuable to undertake on at least an annual basis, to improve the use of LeaseEagle into the future.
Although it may be called many things, re-establishing that your data is okay is something that is ‘best practice’ at least annually. If your systems and processes are working correctly, then it shouldn’t take long. Just like if you keep on top of the cleaning at home, ‘the dirt’ doesn’t have a chance to build up.
The most important elements in cleansing the data is conducting a gap analysis and audit. In LeaseEagle, this is done quite easily using the extensive reporting functions available.
After identifying the critical points, and there may even be a range of criticalities, a simple Portfolio Report Template can be customised to easily identify if there are any locations/agreements with ‘missing data’ or gaps.
This is a report that can be saved and it may even pay to break it up into the various levels of data for practical purposes, but as easily as the report runs it should become obvious as to any fields that are ‘blank’ or incomplete.
Then, the cleansing process becomes a little more complex, although still made easier using customised LeaseEagle Reporting. Given the time it would take, and the low level of risk – assuming your systems and processes are up to scratch – a complete data audit on an annual basis is both a cumbersome, and somewhat expensive task to undertake. Just as your accountants might do, you are better off starting with a Spot Audit, where a random selection of data is used as a sample in order to develop a view over any existing failures or errors. You might start with just 10% of data and look to see if there are any problems, and dig deeper or wider if there are issues appearing, or close it out if there isn’t.
The benchmarks and parameters that you might set for a Spot Audit will vary and be something to agree on internally. Regardless of whether you do or don’t find problems you are able to at least point towards a reliable and repeatable objective process of testing your data quality, as well as probably finding areas for improvement along the way. With sufficient testing, the business’ reliance on the data will strengthen, along with your data management processes.
With the core of your data verified for completeness and accuracy, then you can move on to improving the ways in which it is utilised.
One of the true values of LeaseEagle is in creating more efficient businesses, or increasing productivity. Something that is especially relevant at this time, with more businesses experiencing limited resources.
Once your data is in the right state, developing ways to leverage or monetise it become high-value projects for most businesses. Looking back at our Top 5 recommendations, expanding the use and/or visibility of your data, and creating more automations are two of the easiest ways to generate more efficiencies. LeaseEagle offers numerous ways to achieve these:
- Using the native Scheduling features for saved Report Templates. By creating your own customised report templates, you can schedule the delivery of this data on any frequency in a CSV data format via SMTP or SFTP, ensuring that data can be delivered to a secure network location for use in other systems if required. Need a monthly updated list of all Locations, current Lease Expiries or even Occ. Cost? Have it delivered whenever you want to the destination you choose and have your other systems be updated automatically.
- Want to create something even more integrated, or publish data into LeaseEagle? Accessing our imbedded RESTful APIs will allow your own IT team to directly connect other systems with LeaseEagle to further automate and target data replication and synchronisation. Even if you don’t have IT resources, LeaseEagle has an extensive array of Import/Export capabilities via CSV files that will allow the bulk updating or downloading of data for use with other systems.
- Customise the frequency of your Critical Event Alerts for more proactive alerts from LeaseEagle. Or even utilise the Custom Reminders feature across the system that allows the creation of email alerts for virtually any need at all – charges, agreements, documents, communications.
- The LEFinancials module can help those who find their monthly invoice approval and payment process overly burdensome. It can help to reduce occupancy invoice processing time by as much as 90%, improve audit controls, and eliminate payment errors with features such as real-time contract-matching, auto-accruals management and auto-payments. Nine out of ten customers who have implemented this module have even identified historic payment errors, often resulting in significant landlord recoveries over the lease term. LEFinancials not only saves you time, but consistently saves customers money month after month.
I’ve talked already about leveraging or monetising data and it being an important way of creating value. This is where LeaseEagle is designed to deliver most of all. With the necessary security and access controls for all users, LeaseEagle can deliver the intelligence your people demand, with the security and control that the business needs. And just like recommendation #2, the more use that your data has the better it will survive.
Just like with any reporting in LeaseEagle, when it comes to benchmarking, analysis and other data intelligence requirements, any custom report templates can be scheduled for delivery on any frequency, ensuring that information is in the right format for the right people at the right time.
If you are running LeaseEagle with minimal read-only Users then we encourage you to identify where the most frequent requests for information are originating, and look to deliver an access level for them that will allow the consumption of the data they need in their own way at their own time.
Empower team efficiency and productivity
With the ability to put any portfolio information in the hands of the users that really need it, LeaseEagle empowers your team with the access and visibility to the information they need.
It is not designed to just rest as a ‘back of house’ system, LeaseEagle is most valued when people are constantly accessing its information to support their day-to-day needs, whether that be Strategy Planning, Decision Support, BI Analysis, Financial Reporting or any other intelligence work the team requires.
As we face a period of uncertainty and unprecedented difficulty, now is a good opportunity to take some time to review all of the features and optional modules that LeaseEagle has to offer, and to identify where there is even more value for your organisation. Whether through improving processes and protocols, more data automations and integrations or greater protection and compliance. Remember, no matter the size of your business, there are always improvements to be made, so to further investigate your options based on your specific needs, talk to your Account Manager today or contact us via our website here.