As we navigate our way through the digital landscape, with multiple systems being added to our work processes, sometimes we end up with convoluted procedures that not only waste valuable time, but actually create data errors, extra workload, use out of date pricing and ultimately incorrect addresses for deliveries or invoicing. A Data Warehouse is the solution.
A Data Warehouse is a storage area in a central location for all of your business information and data.
This data mainly comes from business software systems throughout your organisation and is automatically passed into the Data Warehouse in a timely and consistent manner.
Some of this data undergoes transformation in order to create a consistent set of information.
Why use a Data Warehouse?
Using a Data Warehouse brings many benefits, no matter the size of your company. It can also be set up quickly and cost effectively, driven by what your business actually needs. Benefits include:
- It enables various systems to integrate, sharing data between all business applications and facilitates communication between staff, customers and suppliers.
- Public-facing portals can also be implemented, seamlessly sharing information between your business and external entities facilitating a joined up approach, helping you to streamline communication as an end-to-end process.
- It also means you can automate your business processes using data held across your systems, removing manual work when completing data-driven tasks.
- It gives you control of your data and business processes in one central and secure place.
- You can report across multiple data sets and join this information together, helping you make better informed decisions.
- It helps you monitor changes to your data and act upon it.
- It supports GDPR-compliance by knowing all the information about your contacts.
- Benefits are realised quickly, returning instant value back to your business at a low investment point.
Consuming Information in the Data Warehouse
Do more of what you do well. For example: identify your customers’ spending trends, your top geographical regions, your most successful account managers so you can focus on the areas where you have the most success.
Head off problems before they manifest themselves. Use the joined-up data to carry out risk assessments so that proactive processes can be put in place to prevent an issue from happening in the first place.
Be confident in your decisions. Empower the leaders in your business to safely make informed decisions based on highly accurate information.
Some systems have built-in BI but are sometimes limited to data held within that particular database. Enterprise BI solutions, such as Microsoft Power BI, enable companies to view and report on their data using interactive and graphical tools.
Data Warehouse Checklist
Are you confident that all of your systems have up-to-date information such as company addresses and contacts? A data warehouse can use information from sites like Companies House or Creditsafe to keep multiple systems updated simultaneously.
Data consistency could be the difference between business success or failure. Data is the foundation for solid business decisions, and poor data can lead to misinformed business actions.
With a data warehouse, data from multiple systems can be quickly and automatically consolidated and transformed into a single data source, massively reducing the time and effort required for producing reports.
By snapshotting data at predefined points in time, a data warehouse can use historical data to spot trends, helping predict future events or identifying risks. For example, you might see a 5% increase in seasonal sales from October-December but operating costs increase 20%. You could also identify a drop in customer spending, which could be an early sign of them changing suppliers. Analysing data and spotting trends enables you to be proactive rather than reactive.
A data warehouse consolidates the information across your disparate systems and uses it to ensure the highest data integrity across the board.
When an opportunity is won in CRM, the account details can be passed into your financial system to start the account opening process. This can be achieved in several ways; by integrating the two systems, by using Business Process Automation (BPA) and by using a data warehouse as the central source of information.
When a Contract is initially set up, the account details can be passed into your financial/ERP system to start the account opening process. This can be achieved in several ways; by integrating the two systems, by using Business Process Automation (BPA) and by using a data warehouse as the central source of information. The information can subsequently be updated when the contract is renewed.
If one of your customers exceeds their credit limit, your Finance team may put their account on hold until they receive a payment to reduce the money owed. A data warehouse ensures such important information is shared across these systems, allowing your Account Managers to help resolve the situation correctly and promptly.
We all strive to deliver excellent customer service. However, there might be times where your Customer Service Representatives need to refer a customer to their Account Manager before a ticket can be logged. A data warehouse can connect your ERP system with your Ticketing system to ensure the Customer Service Representatives are notified when a customer does not have an active support contract.
If you have contracts, chances are you have a process for managing the renewals. Occasionally, there are unforeseen delays that may prevent the contract from being renewed in time. A data warehouse can handle this scenario in several ways, depending on your requirements. Perhaps a notification to the Account Manager and Contract Renewal team is sufficient, or you may want to prevent any jobs being booked until the renewal has been completed. A data warehouse is very flexible and can be built according to your needs.
Your price lists are usually set in either your finance or ERP systems – and prices often change over time. A data warehouse can capture that data and either pass it to your other systems or, better still, be used as the source for pricing queries.
When addresses are updated in the primary (master) system, a data warehouse can ensure the changes are fed through to all other systems, keeping your data accurate and preventing valuable time being wasted and customers being let down.
A data warehouse can update your CRM system with payment information that is updated in the finance system. You can decide the frequency this information gets updated from nightly to real time.
A Data Warehouse will act as the central hub for all your data, allowing your BI tool digest information on all your data from all your systems, delivering accurate reports and crucial business insights to your management team.
Linking Business Intelligence tools, such as Power BI, to a Data Warehouse can help businesses see performance across branches/departments of a business to compare them.
Linking Business Intelligence tools, such as Power BI, to a Data Warehouse can help you identify trends with customer cycles. For example, on average, customers tend to be inactive after 2 years, which means procedures can be put in place to re-engage with them before they look for another supplier.
Using a Data Warehouse means that you can control what people have access to. In most cases, it will be read-only. However, sensitive information can also be made visible only to Management.
Using a Data Warehouse means that running reports, using BI or carrying out complicated searches doesn’t put a strain on live system performance. Instead, the data is copied to the Data Warehouse and that is used as the data source rather than querying the live system databases.
A Data Warehouse could be a fundamental step in your digitalisation journey, supporting your business as it evolves and adapts to competition in this digital age. Talk to us about data warehouses and how we can help streamline your business.