Put an End to Data Fatigue (1,274 words)
Database Reports Must Do All the Calculations
Too many of us look at the hard copies of database reports, input those data into a spreadsheet, create formulas to crunch the numbers, and format the report with lines, symbols, subtotals and page numbers. Technology supports the Olympics of mathematical gymnastics.
Ask your programmer or systems person to build the information on the summary page, or have an outside contractor develop the additional requirements into the design of the reports. The expense for a finite period of a contractor's time is cheaper than building the information infinitely yourself.
Another option is to build spreadsheet-driven formats and have a programmer or systems person schedule direct downloads. This way, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the database automatically will update the spreadsheets and store the calculations and comparisons. Then you'll have the luxury of reviewing the report and interpreting the information.
Reliable Data are From One Source—Even if the Data are for Different Uses
In a perfect world, marketing data are immediately captured from the order entry system—just like financial data. In reality, often the marketing data and customer-specific data reside in a separate relational database, whereas financial data may be sourced from a transactional flat file. While this appears to be dysfunctional, the purposes are genuine and do eventually marry.
Take the example of a first-time buyer purchasing four items at $25 each from the spring catalog with one item on back order. Marketing wants to capture the entire gross demand sales of $100; finance only captures the shipped sales of $75 plus S&H; and merchandising wants the gross demand sales of $100, the $25 back order and the $75 shipped sales and S&H (to calculate margin). And, of course, all three will want to know if the customer cancelled the back order of $25.