Information or business data is critical to the success of any business but even more so for a small businesses. This information can not only let you know when there are issues with your business but can also be used to help guide decisions for critical business initiatives and ventures.
But getting the right business information requires having certain elements to ensure that the information you are basing your decisions on is accurate and relevant.
I spent several years as a business analyst providing information, reporting and decision support to business leaders and have found the following is necessary:
Good data - remember GIGO? (garbage in, garbage out) It is important to ensure that the data you are entering into your systems and software is correct if not any report based on this data is irrelevant and useless. Good data provides a strong foundation for business reporting, analysis and decision support.
Relevant data - Not only does the information that is entered need to be accurate, you have to determine what information is important to capture. You know you need sales and the date of sales but what other information is important? Do you need the location of the sale to compare the performance between markets? You can't analyze business performance with data you do not have.
Ask the right business question - This one is a bit tricky. Business reporting and business analysis requires pulling relevant data and applying parameters. If you ask the wrong business question you may pull the wrong data element or use the wrong parameters. It is important to fully understand what information you need or what business decision you need to make.
The three elements above are important in ensuring that business leaders have the information they need to make the best business decision possible for their small business.