Mind the Gaps: Why to Avoid Data Silos

May 29th, 2018

In prior blog posts, we’ve written about the benefits of choosing the right IT system and the pitfalls of sticking with subpar band-aid solutions. So, what does the right system look like? The specific characteristics and features can vary from one company to the next, but we can tell you one kind of setup that you should avoid at all costs, and that is falling into siloed systems.

The Business Dictionary defines “silo mentality” as “a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company.” However, it’s possible that your IT solution, especially one that is homegrown, can create information silos regardless of uncharitable intent among anyone on your team. And these disconnects can create a host of problems:

1. Lost Time

When dealing with multiple programs that do not smoothly communicate with each other, employees often must enter the same data in multiple locations. This duplicate data entry adds up, wasting a significant number of human hours.

2. Opportunities for Error

Every manually entered data point is an opportunity for an error. Furthermore, different departments may have different naming conventions for data, resulting in mismatches and confusion that cause headaches.

3. Lack of Accountability

A pitfall of siloed systems is departments not having full insight into other departments’ work and data. Customer records may be duplicated, or appointment information may not be broadly visible. These gaps may lead to customers falling through the cracks, and not getting served how they need. This harms the relationship and ultimately the potential for revenue. 

4. Frustration

Employee satisfaction is key, from a profitability and culture perspective. When your team has to work with systems that involve mundane tasks and frustrating flaws, the loss in productivity and morale could be costly.

Luckily, these problems can easily be solved by moving from an IT solution with siloed parts to a modern one that is fully integrated. Here are just a few of the advantages:

Unified Data

Everyone in your company  and even within your partner and vendor network can be on the same page, looking at the same set of product, customer, or financial data in real-time. 

Better Strategy

Having clear and reliable data is a must when making important business decisions. Companies that lack integrated systems set themselves up for the dangerous possibility of incomplete or incorrect output misinforming a strategic plan. Regardless of industry, dependable, accurate data lays the foundation for short- and long-term success.

More Efficiency

Switching from a siloed to an integrated system will reduce the amount of time required by duplicate entry. Also, integrated systems nearly always have a better user interface than homegrown systems, making them easier, faster, and more pleasant to use.

Wonder what the difference looks like in a real-world scenario? Our client Champions Machine Tool Sales began searching for a new technology partner in 2015 in order to unite its operations, which were running on three separate systems – one for sales, one for service, and a third for accounting – leading to extensive manual compiling and not being in sync. After partnering with Single Source to implement Infor Service Management, the company's business units and departments saw better communication and collaboration. As Business Manager Toma Harrison said, “ISM helped us all be on the same page instead of trying to piece together a portrait of what was going on from three different systems.” In addition, the insights from ISM's robust performance metrics allowed for both better business decision-making and catching potential issues before they happened.  

An effective company has no room for any kind of silos. Learn more about Champions’ transformation in our case study.

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