Stone Age Data CollectionWhat is the first thing that comes to your mind when “data collection system” is mentioned? Do you have visions of an orderly system where product comes in, it gets recorded, and you actually have the correct information to run your business? Or do you have recurring nightmares of chaos and bedlam where all of your workers are playing laser tag and sticking labels on each other?
It boils down to the execution of a plan or project. A data collection system can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. Finding the right balance between technology, business requirements, and human (user) interaction is the most important aspect of a successful launch. Ask the following questions: What do we do?  How do we do it?  What do we need to do? How will we do it? Last but not least: WHY DO WE WANT/NEED TO DO IT?
A data collection system, in its most simple form, has been around since the beginning of time. Cavemen have taken inventories of their rock collections; shepherds have counted their sheep; farmers have recorded seeds and yields; manufacturers and distribution companies have captured raw materials and finished goods–coming in and going out. Whether the data was recorded in someone’s mind, scratched on the side wall of a cave, the trustworthy paper and clipboard, spreadsheets, or entered in a hand held computer, data collection has to fit your business model.
Let’s assume that you are well past scratching the information on the side wall of a cave. Believe it or not, we have found that many companies are not too far advanced from that practice because, “that’s the way we have always done business…” A broom works as well as a vacuum cleaner (in some instances); a slide rule works as well as a computer (in some instances);  Windows ME works as…let’s skip that analogy. The point is: your company should evolve to meet the growing demands of information processing, and the best way of getting there is to have an efficient data collection method.
In subsequent articles, we will follow up with having you ask yourself those questions from above: What do we do? How do we do it? What do we need to do?  How will we do it? And WHY? We will also touch on the difference between data collection and information processing and how to plan a successful project.

If you think you’re ready to get started with a data collection system and would like some help or more information, feel free to contact us anytime.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Jsome1.