Actionable data is only as valuable as the care and attention that goes into data entry.

I recently was talking with a key client about the importance of building a foundation for new processes, and it sparked the idea for this article.  If there is one common problem my clients experience, it is the desire to rush “building the foundation” – whether of a process, system, culture etc.  Don’t give in to the temptation; instead, invest in building a solid foundation, and you’ll end up with a better – and typically quicker – result than the rest.

When it comes to systems, the key to the foundation is addressing data integrity.  Garbage in creates garbage out is not just a saying; it is a certainty.  Thus, what types of data should we review?

  1. Inventory accuracy – if you do not have accurate inventory (within a reasonable tolerance), nothing else will “work”.  Thus, start here.
  2. Item numbers – do you have a bunch of junk included in your item numbers? Clean up obsolete part numbers.  Consider labeling slow-moving so that you can pick them out quickly.
  3. Item attributes – this is a BIG one.  Clean up your make vs. buy flag; clean up your item categories; clean up all the flags which will cause the system to “do” something.  Otherwise you’ll be following a bunch of incorrect messages.
  4. Purchase order & supplier clean up – one of my clients was experiencing a rather large mess, stemming from a recent system implementation.  In their case, we focused on cleaning up PO’s, and the situation improved 80/20 immediately.
  5. Work order & manufacturing data clean up – similar to purchase orders, can you rely on your manufacturing data?  Equally bad, do you have all sorts of old POs sitting out there?  The system will assume that they are all valid.
  6. Dates – talk about a common problem!  Do you start with accurate dates and then just let them go by the wayside?  Clean up your dates so that your system has some idea of what will ensure success.

Although there are countless data integrity items, if you start with these, you’ll be in much better shape.

Addressing this area will not be as exciting as implementing Lean or Six Sigma but it will drive FAR more results.  You’ll drive results by strengthening your foundation and then finding the right strategies to build on top of it.