Photo by Alex Green

I ask a lot of questions. It’s my job. I love my job. Not everyone loves me when I’m doing my job.

I try not to sound like a pre-schooler trying to get dessert before I finish my vegetables, (e.g., Me: Why can’t I eat dessert first? Mom: Because I say so. Me: Why do you say so? Etc.) but I can be perceived that way.

Clients come to me with data pain and they need relief. Most often what they present as the problem is, in reality, a symptom of the problem. To effectively solve the problem, I have to employ the 5 whys of root cause analysis. The answer to the fifth why may not reveal the entire scope of the problem, but it certainly makes the next steps to adequately defining the problem clearer.

We all want our pain relieved as soon as possible, and it is worth taking the time to ensure that we are solving the real problem. If we are just eliminating one symptom of a problem, more pain will turn up elsewhere in the client’s system which will waste time and money. As my grandmother said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Answers to the 5 whys can reveal that what everyone thinks is a specific small problem is actually a symptom of a problem within the underlying strategy of the process. For example, if you have several employees entering identical customer data in multiple applications (e.g., contacts, account information, orders, etc.) the solution on the surface may seem to be linking the applications together. But if your business strategy is a 360 view of your customers, you’ll want to consider building a database.  For example:

Me: Why are several employees entering the same customer data?

You: Because we have different applications including one for contact information, one for account information, one for inventory, etc.

Me: Why don’t you migrate the information to a CRM?

You: Because the licenses are too expensive

Me: Why are the licenses too expensive?

You: Because we have so many customizations

Me: Why do you have so many customizations?

You: Because the data is not standardized

Me: Why isn’t the data standardized?

You: Because there is so much of it, no one has time to clean it up and standardize it.

That’s the real problem. It isn’t that multiple people are entering data. It is that your data needs both cleaned up and standardized. And that’s where we come in. If you need your data moved into a database so multiple users can enter, access, and query it, but haven’t done so yet because of the expense, contact me.

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