Friday, November 06, 2009

Why should I care whether my data is in a database or not?

This may sound like an obvious question but amazingly enough there are a lot of people who don't always quite get this. When asked how people manage their data and they tell me that they look up their lists in Word, I cringe. Or when people use Excel for all of the note taking needs and then ask for it to me imported into CRM I question the usefulness of such an exercise. Word is great for writing documents and letters. Excel is a mini database and monster of a calculation and reporting tool. CRM, from a data perspective, is a relational database that can track just about anything and relate one set of data to another set.

While I've only seen a handful of people using Word to track data, Excel is used all of the time. And amazingly enough people use Excel like Word. Putting an address of street1 street2 city state zip all in one cell isn't the best use of a cell. Breaking that out into separate data fields, or their own Excel cells makes it so that you sort, query, and group data together. That's the power of relational databases like CRM. With data being broken out and related properly data is able to be queried, grouped, sorted, quantified, calculated, and more properly analyzed. There aren't many limits on what you can do as long as your data is entered and records linked correctly between tables.

There is a huge difference between a CRM system with bad data and a CRM system with good data. One can actually effectively help users to target the proper places to focus their time and the other just misleads and frustrates people.

How do you store your data? Are you tracking everything that is of use to you?

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

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