Recently I asked a marketing director in a company if she knew how much cost is consumed to produce the information that she uses in her business. She knew the cost of her product and the profit the company makes on the sale of it. Doing quite a bit of her own research, and relying further on information from the staff, she has a good understanding of the needs of the customers and how they perceive the product. Her first reaction was that the information that she uses is adequate and cost effective. She had few issues with the software they use. They use limited special IT services, and overall the business is not very demanding on changing information requirements. She was convinced that the cost of the information is less that 1% of the price of the product although she confessed to not have included the cost of producing the information for the product in her costings.
Further probing discovered that the market is now changing rapidly and that she need to know more about competitive products; she also highlighted that the monthly production reports is sometimes too late and it takes her assistant a while to rework the production statistics into something more meaningful. Customer feedback was all put in a file and either she or her assistant had to page through the file to digest the customers feedback.
I checked on the other staff and found that 3 different systems and 4 people are involved in obtaining, recording, collating, and finalising the market and product information. It turns out that the staff often have to retype information from one system into the other, and spends quite a bit of time to search for, and relate the information that they find into something that make sense. Unfortunately the sales director has had to rely on partial information more than once because they just did not have the time to collate and put it together before the client meeting.
With the help if Laminin Solutions the sales director recalculated the cost of producing information for her products, taking the time and systems cost into account to get her monthly reports. A simple formulae was used to convert the time spend on information used, and information not used to quantify the cost. It turned out that she totally underestimated how much it cost to have the information and her finger tips, and that a large portion of the cost is related to activities and the production of reports and information which is never really used. It was very evident that time is wasted on non value added activities.
M-files was then used to link the various systems together to reduce retyping information; organise each research project to allow easier access to all the related data; allow quick search on the contents of documents accross al previous work to mine previous documents that relate to new research. Mapping competitor products became easier and more flexible with the features of M-files to dynamically add new properties and track competitor launches; press releases and product development.
It was not necessary to replace any of the existing systems, but only to tune them, reduce the overhead of searching and finding, getting rid of the hundreds of folders on the server. Now the sales director can access the information on the run and there is no need to ask and wait for the collation and production of reports before answers is evident and the data turns into usable information at the right time.