Data Silos: What Are They and How to Eliminate Them

Employee data, customer data, asset data, internal systems or processes data… The list goes on, which is why businesses today run on data. It fuels work orders, project management, invoicing, decision-making, and so much more. So, how do you ensure your data storage is effective and meets everyone’s needs? The key is to eliminate data silos within your company. This blog will cover the essentials of what they are, where they come from, and how to eliminate them.

What is a Data Silo?

Data silo is the term for data that has limited accessibility due to being in a file, spreadsheet, or software that is not available company-wide. It does not apply to data that is kept private for security or privacy purposes. Data silos address data that is beneficial and you can share with everyone. You just currently have the data in isolation because of the chosen storage system.

For example, accountants may have a spreadsheet or software system. Project managers may have a separate system, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. And, your maintenance technicians have either a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software. Each of these three departments has a data silo. This is because they organize and store data within their department and don’t share with the other departments. Accounting would benefit from project and work order data to ensure invoice accuracy. Project managers would benefit from work order and invoice data for their customer management. While the maintenance department could benefit from customer data and accounting reports to serve customers and create an effective maintenance plan.

What Causes Data Silos?

As you read in the example above, data silos are most often caused by organizing your data within each department. As your company grows, the data silos grow as well. It’s a very common result of the individual departments creating a system to manage the data they need without considering a company-wide data solution. If the chosen spreadsheets or software do not integrate with those of other departments, a data silo is born.

Why is it a Problem?

There are many issues with data silos, including:

  • Duplicate data – Multiple departments need the same data, so it will be stored in multiple places.
  • Inaccurate data – As you store data in multiple places, one department may update its records, but the other departments’ systems are not updated.
  • Inefficiency – If someone in accounting needs work order data, they either have to track down someone to provide it or they have to go in and out of multiple systems to access what they need.
  • Lack of collaboration – When a team member needs something, it’s likely that another department already has that data. Shared data allows collaboration that saves everyone time.
  • Poor customer service – If every point of contact with a customer has access to the same information, the customer will have a more consistent and streamlined experience. Team members will know of past issues, have all of their information, and can more effectively answer their questions.

How to Eliminate Data Silos

There’s really one major step to eliminate data silos in your business: Choose a software system that creates a centralized hub for your data. Now, this system doesn’t have to replace all other systems. However, it should ideally have the ability to integrate with any system it doesn’t replace. For example, Redlist offers software solutions for Field Service Management, Enterprise Asset Management, and Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE). But, it also integrates with Quickbooks and several other systems you may already use. Additionally, you will want to consider the storage and accessibility of the software. Cloud storage is preferred because that makes your data accessible on any device. Redlist is a cloud-based mobile app with offline capabilities, which means your data is at your fingertips even if you have a poor cell signal.

Once you choose your system, the real work begins. As you import your data, you will want to resolve duplicate entries and any inaccuracies. This will involve some verification of what data is accurate and what is out of date. Also, you need to ensure that you sync any remaining systems to integrate with your software.

The final step is to make sure all of the departments have the appropriate access to your new data hub. If anyone needs training on how to access or use the software, you should include that in this step. Having your team on board with software implementation is key to the success of your new system.

Improve Your Data Accessibility with Redlist

To remain competitive in today’s market, businesses must use their data for important decisions and goals. Eliminating data silos creates a more collaborative company culture and removes inefficient processes across many departments. The time savings alone is worth it for many companies, but the added benefits of accurate, accessible data go far beyond that. If you’d like to learn more about how Redlist can eliminate your data silos, book a demo today.

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