As a business owner, it is so important to have up-to-date numbers on your business. When we say numbers we don’t just mean financial numbers, we mean numbers to do with all parts of your business – from profit & loss, cash flow straight through to customer satisfaction scores and employee turnover. Knowing these numbers and having them at your fingertips, helps you see a true picture of your business and aids in making the best decisions for your business. Data automation helps you with this. In this blog post, we will look at what data automation means and discuss 3 ways in which data automation can help you run your business.
What is data automation?
Data automation is where we use technology to automatically update data, such as your finances and other KPI’s, relating to your business. We then compile the data into a single dashboard environment that we can all access anytime and from anywhere.
DexterLabs is our dedicated data automation and cloud integration business unit, comprising a specialised team of software developers and analysts.
How can data automation help you run your business?
Data automation helps you run your business more effectively and more cost efficiently. Three main ways this is achieved are;
1. Gain “whole of business” insights at your finger tips
When you have access to close to real time data that is in a format that talks directly to your business KPI’s, you are, naturally, better positioned to make a more informed decision. Using data automation means that you potentially have access to information from multiple pieces of software or data sources, that is automatically compiled in a single dashboard environment. The data may be a combination of your accounting software, CRM, online shopping portals, website analytics. Pretty much anywhere. Having this information means you no longer need to spend time searching for numbers to make a decision, but you have them in the one portal, and can easily compare the numbers side by side.
Example: Sarah operates a cafe. She recently setup Xero and Kounta to help automate the data processing in her business.. Working with Sarah, the DexterLabs team has created a dashboard environment that automatically imports data from Xero (accounting and payroll), Kounta (POS & inventory), BOM (weather data) and compiles the data into concise financial reports and KPI’s. The financials, and KPIs have been uploaded into her dashboard, going back to when her business first started 5 years ago. She is reviewing her menu pricing as she is considering whether she needs to increase the selling price of her cake range. Using the compiled data, she is quickly able to see that the cost of ingredients relating to cakes as well as staffing costs have increased year on year, but her selling price hasn’t changed. She then looks at her budget for the next 12 months and sees that she plans to increase sales revenue by 5% for the year for her cake range to sustain profits, yet her sales have remained constant this year. Whilst she is very nervous about increasing her prices, she knows she has to. She also knows she has the information to communicate to her customers why the prices had to increase. She feels much more confident to increase the prices of her cakes with this information, knowing that she has made an informed decision.
2. Time savings on data entry
With data automation, you no longer need to spend time manually transposing data from one system to another. All your data can be captured on a real-time basis into a single portal environment, which means that you have up-to-date information literally at your fingertips.
Example: James runs a mechanic and has two silent partners who contributed significant capital into the business to get it started. Each quarter he has a board meeting and presents his financials, along with other key KPIs and matters to his partners. Preparing for this meeting would normally take James a full day on the weekend as he would need to make sure all numbers are up to date and all KPIs have been recorded. This often would involve him having to manually enter a lot of information. Since using data automation, James feels he has gotten valuable time back as he no longer needs to update the information. Also, the board meetings have been a lot more productive as James now has more time to analyse the numbers, rather than simply spending his time doing a lot of data entry.
3. Get more value out of your advisor
The hourly rate of business advisors can be expensive, so when you meet with your business advisor you want to ensure you are getting the most out of their time. Using data automation means that both you and your advisor have access to all your business information and that it is current and complete. This saves time going through old files to find information your advisor asks you for, and allows you to use the time with them to analyse the data and have the discussions you need to grow and improve your business.
Example: Remember Sarah from tip 1? When Sarah would have meetings with her advisor prior to her using data automation, she was often unprepared. She would bring with her old tax returns when she worked with previous accountants, and then would be sifting through emails to find current costings of ingredients. Since using data automation she leaves her advisor meetings much more satisfied as she feels the meeting time has been used to make important strategic and tactical decisions for her business.
As can be seen, data automation has some key advantages. Through saving time with data entry, and having a repository for all your business statistics and numbers you are really equipped with the tools you need to take your business forward. If you would like to know more about getting started with data automation, you can read more about it here.