Let’s Talk About Data
Guest Post: Pat McGrew, McGrewGroup, Inc.
Experienced printers and those new to the industry have some similar struggles when it comes to data. Using data to understand the business has always been important, but not every print company approaches it the same way. No matter where you are on your data journey, consider the opportunities for capturing shop floor data and using it to make your business more efficient and more profitable.
Let’s start with your sales data since it drives the business. Many companies have comprehensive sales plans with goals, sales team quotas, and rigorous reviews on a regular cadence to check the status. Just as many do not. Many are somewhere in the middle, with a general plan developed at the start of the year and continuous monitoring of estimates and invoicing. More data is not better. Analyzing the data you can collect and using it to inform your next series of decisions is best.
Take a deep breath and answer the following questions:
- Are you tracking every estimate and quote?
- Are you looking at your win rate?
- Are you digging into why you lose when you don’t win?
- Are you comparing your monthly and quarterly estimates to sales?
- Do you know what products you sell the most?
- Do you know what products you sell the least?
- Do you capture change requests for jobs in progress?
- Are change requests invoiced when the work is complete?
- What is your anticipated profit margin by product?
- Is your anticipated profit margin enough to make you profitable?
OK, I know there is a lot to look at, but we aren’t done. Once you look at your internal data, look at data from external sources. In Why External Data Needs to Be Part of Your Data and Analytics Strategy by Joseph Stec, there is a list of common external data categories – data from your customers and the market you serve – worth understanding as they relate to your business:
- Company Data: Includes national identifying data like SIC codes, segment-specific industry trends for the industries you serve, and public company data.
- People Data: Beyond the contact data in your company database, this includes social network data, and buying trend information for the segments you serve.
- Geospatial Data: Demographics and trends. Who do your clients serve, and what influences them?
- Temporal Data: National and local events, weather, cultural influences.
Begin by knowing as much as you can about your business, and then take some time to look at the external data that can help you position your offerings to grow and expand. Have questions? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or add them to the comments!
Pat McGrew helps companies perform better. As Managing Director for McGrewGroup, Inc., she promotes Best Practices for your Business using her 30+ years of experience as a software company owner, marketer, analyst, industry evangelist, and consultant to enable business growth. She assesses workflow and bizflow effectiveness, and develops strategies and triage engagements for products, services, and businesses. Pat covers print and customer communication channels for data-driven and static marketing, transaction, packaging, label, and commercial print with experience in offset, inkjet, and toner. An experienced professional speaker and facilitator, she is the author of 8 books, the editor of the Xplor EDBOK, a regular industry content contributor, host of #PrintSampleTV, and co-host of #ThePrintReport. She is co-proprietor of ThePrintUniversity.com, a new education initiative. Pat is certified as a Lifetime Master Electronic Document Professional by Xplor, as a Print Buyer for Variable Print by PCPI, and as a Color Management Professional (CMP), CMP Digital, and BrandQ Professional by IDEAlliance. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.
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