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The single point of truth

A phrase often heard, but what does it mean and more importantly, how can it be achieved?

In any company, all client facing staff must be kept well informed about their customers.  What products or services they take, what they are trying to do, the last time there was any interaction and any outstanding queries or concerns.  They need quick and easy access to all this relevant data, and be able to rely on it as correct, up to date and available in an immediately usable format.

However, it must be the truth!

Generally, such data is accessible, but often held in disparate systems throughout the organisation which means pulling it together to produce the complete picture for a report or going from one location to another to use it for day to day client contact. It may be the truth, but is it easy to access?

If it’s not, in a busy environment, individuals will start to ‘build their own mini database’, an understandable but extremely unwise practice which once started, becomes hard to change and even harder to stop.  As well as bringing in data, users will add their own (i.e. information which they could and should be sharing with others).  So pretty soon these ‘cottage industries‘, become extensive operations in their own right!

To achieve the ‘single point objective’ can be easier said than done – it requires some forward thinking as well as a combination of knowing what happens now and a commitment to planning. To determine which information from which operations should be transferred and held in your CRM system, to use this as a central data repository as well as the initiator of all customer focused activities and to agree the crucial on-screen viewing, analysis and reporting which will really drive your business.

Over time, these different systems can be integrated, each being designated as a master data source with all the necessary flow and timing rules in place to enable processes to be carried out smoothly and efficiently.

The following exercise might be useful:  Review the amount of time currently spent on transferring information throughout the company, estimate the number errors caused due to manual transfer, count the number of people who keep their own database and (dare to) dream about the potential new or add on opportunities which you are missing because of inefficient data communication within the business right now.  Maybe the Single Point of Truth is for you..!