By Mark E. Engelberg, TimeLinx –
The promise of ‘business data’ is one of ‘unleashed potential,’ ‘data-to-decisions journeys,’ and any number of other fantastic-sounding perks.
What you’re not told in the showroom before you turn the key and roll your new BI tool out of the showroom is that business data is only as intelligent as it is accurate, complete, reliable, relevant, timely, and integral.
If it’s not all those things at once, then all your BI tool will unleash is a torrent of data without practical utility. How can professional services organizations help their business data score bonus IQ points to make it truly intelligent?
First, let’s establish the pillars of the qualities inherent in intelligent business data.
Your Data-Quality Standards Should Be as Unforgiving as Your HR Standards
Ensuring the intelligence of your business data isn’t dissimilar to ensuring the smarts of the employees you hire to deliver professional services for clients.
For example, when interviewing new hires or appraising employees, what are the benchmarks you’re trying to validate?
- “Does what they’re telling me match reality?” (Accuracy)
- Are necessary details missing from their work or job application? (Completeness)
- Do other sources back their story? (Reliability)
- Do their answers match my needs? (Relevance)
- Did they show up on time for the interview? (Timeliness)
- Have they performed consistently in the past? (Integrity)
Accuracy, completeness, reliability, relevance, timeliness, and integrity.
These are the six pillars of truly intelligent business data. When all six are consistently present, your business data works for you, not against you.
The result is more value delivered than the cost of producing it—that’s the measure of truly intelligent business data. It’s also the measure of truly valuable professional services project delivery.
How Can You Help Teams Produce More Intelligent Business Data?
Now let’s discover how professional services business data can be smarter.
To do that, we’ll combine the two notions by asking the question; how can your organization empower employees to get smarter about producing business data that delivers more than the cost of producing it?
The answer can be found by examining each of the six pillars.
Management teams seeking to optimize project margins and business performance must benchmark the business intelligence of client-project data by establishing answers to the below factors:
“How accurate is our data?”
Data accuracy is the backbone of the remaining five pillars of intelligent business data. Without it, the rest don’t stand up. In professional services projects, data accuracy is threatened by the sheer volume of data-entry administrative tasks that project data narratives depend on. Manual typing, re-keying, and scattered spreadsheets make human error an inevitable antagonist of data accuracy.
For organizations seeking to protect data accuracy, the TimeLinx Accounting Package (TAP) promotes data accuracy by automatically passing data between the accounting system and TimeLinx PSM for Infor CRM and Sage CRM.
The result is consistent, error-free data accuracy across revenues, expenses, margins, job cost, G/L numbers, staff costing data, detailed notes, and more.
“How complete is our data?”
Data completeness in business intelligence is about ensuring a full dataset free of gaps. For example, pre-sales activities such as selling and quote preparation time often aren’t factored into the final project costs. Usually, that’s because they are not tracked and are therefore unknown.
How can you establish a reasonable project margin with an incomplete picture of your total project costs, including pre-sale activity? You can’t, is the answer.
TimeLinx’s pre-sales labor tracking, by the way, ensures everything is captured so that your cost-to-service is complete, intelligent, and easily trackable.
“How reliable is our data?”
Ironclad data reliability is essential for gaining an accurate picture of project profit and finances using data sourced from different parts of your IT infrastructure.
If finance teams have to estimate billing rates, job costs, and expense reimbursement of staff because siloed IT assets aren’t delivering a cohesive picture, how can you reliably calculate true cost-of-service?
Intelligent data reliability in professional services is about automatically synthesizing a complete picture of all essential project considerations without manually identifying and sourcing data from scattered data silos.
That’s what TimeLinx’s Revenue Optimization EngineTM does, by automatically sourcing the correct data and values from the right points in the end-to-end project lifecycle.
“How relevant is our project lifecycle data?”
Data relevance is about having enough of the right kind of data. Too much data can be as much of a problem as not enough. If you over-fix the issue of data scarcity into data over-abundance, then you create data redundancy.
So management teams must ask: “Do we really need the data we’re collecting?” “How much is it costing to collect?” “Did we pre-define its utility?”
“How timely is our project lifecycle data?”
Data timeliness follows the adage that ‘time is money’.
The timeliness of professional services data flowing through your CRM and ERP systems refers to how up-to-date the data is. Untimely data isn’t just an inconvenience; it can be expensive.
Imagine that your services data for countless projects across countless clients is delayed by 24 hours. This could cause no end of uncertainty and grief for teams servicing those projects. You might also end up with an explosion of support tickets from customers requesting updates.
Part of the role of intelligent business intelligence is obtaining information in real-time. That’s precisely what TimeLinx Business Intelligence does with financial and project dashboards that give an in-the-moment picture of critical data.
“How integral is our project lifecycle data?”
Returning to the ‘hiring’ analogy in the intro, when you hire new talent, you need to trace their work history.
Similarly, data integrity of business intelligence is about ensuring your business data is traceable across other elements of your organization.
Maintaining data integrity in each department and end-to-end project workflows will determine its long-term utility, which means consistent data-capture habits of all departments and individuals.
Help Your Teams Intelligently Empower Intelligent Business Data
Explore the potential of TimeLinx PSM for Infor and Sage and discover how your data could be flowing more intelligently as a single narrative between departments and business systems.
Ask us for a demo. We’ll show you how TimeLinx PSM sits between your CRM and accounting systems, ensuring intelligent data capture, not only of project hours worked but of all the associated, un-tracked costs that help make professional services projects profitable.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.