Data is not the most exciting topic to write about. Those of you in charge of data may have nightmares of bad data, duplicate data and missing data inputs. You may be working with data that live in different databases (systems). You may have a complicated yet effective excel spreadsheet that puts it all together for the company to use as business intelligence, but if you go on vacation, you may not be sure if anyone else can run the reports.
Let’s face it, data isn’t always fun, but if you are considering a new ERP or are smacked down in the middle of an implementation right now, do yourself a huge favor and focus on data clean up and data integrity.
Depending on the industry, you may already have very strict rules on data. Who can access it and how long you must keep records for? If you’re lucky, you have a good backup of data stored digitally. In many cases, organizations that are implementing NetSuite have been using different systems that don’t always talk to each other. Consider your NetSuite implementation the golden opportunity to take a step forward in the right “data integrity” path.
During your implementation, I recommend you have one person in charge of data integrity. Let’s call this person the “Data Evangelist.” It doesn’t mean the Data Evangelist needs to collect and format all data, but they will be responsible for driving the importance of good clean data. Good clean data has best practices built, data governance rules and is easy for others to share and collaborate.
Consider the following as you prepare for your data dump into NetSuite. Let’s not call it a data dump, let’s call it a Data Fresh Start.
- There is no better time than now.
There is no better time than NOW to clean up your data. Yes, you may have thousands of lines of duplicate records, outdated information and several different systems/formats to look through. Whether you’re considering NetSuite or are already in the middle of your implementation, you can start now. The first step is to get a current reality of your data sources and formats. Remember when you go to NetSuite, your consultant will provide you with pretty templates that look intimidating at first, but you’ll get the hang of it after you complete the first one. You’ll also start to feel all warm and fuzzy once we start to see how nice the clean data looks on your templates. Unless…
- Garbage in, garbage out.
Unless… you don’t take the time to really look at what you’re bringing over. Putting the data into the new templates isn’t about copy and paste. It’s about really looking at what the organization needs and bringing in relevant data. You may have 20,000 customers, but in the last 3 years only 5,000 of those were active. Focus on bringing in only what will be needed. You can always save the old customers offline in the given case you need to go back to one of those customers. Same goes for old transactions (note this may impact forecasting) and inventory items. Further, if the data you bring in was wrong to begin with, it won’t get any better in NetSuite. Bad emails, phone numbers and addresses were bad in your old system and will be bad in NetSuite. If your naming convention is inconsistent, take the time to find a good naming convention that works for you organization.
- Consider how data is related.
One of the most powerful features of NetSuite is how EVERYTHING is related. You’ll see that as you dive into NetSuite. As you start preparing your data, consider how it will rate to other records such as customers, vendors and inventory. There is an order in which data must be brought in as well. You typically don’t want to bring in individual contacts until you’ve created Customer and Vendors so you can associate them. You won’t create assemblies until you bring in component parts.
- Think about the future.
Thinking about the future may be difficult, but if you consider the three points above it makes it easier. Consider what data is important for your growing business. You may not care about tracking a data point such as Customer Category now, but if you are considering expanding your business it may be relevant in the future. Don’t worry, you don’t need to make all those decisions now. You can always create new fields to track data and use CSV uploads to update records in mass. However, it does make it easier if you know upfront what is important. There is a flipside to data, there is a such thing as too much data. The key is to consider what is relevant to your business. While it may be nice to track every single aspect of a customer, will you use it to make business decisions? If not, maintaining the data will be a waste of valuable resources.
In my experience, organizations who spent the time upfront to plan for data had smoother transitions and quicker ramp up time than those who didn’t put an emphasis on data. Organizations that brought in clean data spent more time learning how to make their business better rather than figuring out how to continue doing business.
If you’re considering NetSuite, are in the middle of an implementation, or needing to redo your implementation, reach out to Concentrus. We’re happy to help!