As mentioned in the first Stone Age Data Collection System article, implementing a successful project requires that many questions are asked:  “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “How?”, and “Why?”  But for now… “What do you do?” 
If you’re reading this, chances are that you make something, buy/sell something, deliver something, and/or fix something.  If not, perhaps you work with tracking people/products, in medical applications, or within the law enforcement field.  Regardless, the same questions apply.
So, “What do you do?”  You:2819465157 443d68877b m

  • Order the product.
  • Receive the product.
  • Put the product away.
  • Take the product from inventory.
  • Process the product.
  • Put it back on the shelf.

Someone orders it from you. You:

  • Find it.
  • Pick it.
  • Stage it.
  • Ship it.

Simple enough, huh? What could possibly go wrong?!
If all of your orders come in as you ordered them and are never damaged…if you know where you put your ordered product…if you can turn your inventory as it should…if you can fulfill orders where you pick steel banding before bath tissue…if you can ship with 100% accuracy and never process returns…there really is not any reason for you to read any further. Unless….it takes an army of employees and a process of checks, double, and triple checks to achieve this. (We will touch upon Return On Investment (ROI) and real costs in later posts.)
As hard as it is to believe, when humans—God love them—get involved, things sometimes do not quite work out as planned. That is not to say that computers and technology are infallible, but the weakest link is usually carbon-based. Thus, a successful project attempts to take some of the guesswork and assumptions out of the mix by asking a million questions up front and during the process. It is amazing how many questions lead to more questions. And, it is eye-opening when you present your findings and the management teams say something to the effect of, “Wow, we never knew that was happening!”
The next blog post in this series will concentrate on how you collect the data vital to running your business. Your task is to focus on what you do right now, and how you think you can improve the processes. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees about their jobs and how they think they can improve their own processes. Many of the best data collection system implementations have been collaborations of employee, management, and consultant ideas and visions. This way, everyone owns a piece.  Start asking questions!
Photo used under Creative Commons from B*2.