How to get started with business data collection

If you want to run your business more effectively, it’s vital to collect data to glean insights from your prospects, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Gathering data can help you understand what’s currently working well, what needs improvement, and how certain activities might impact your bottom line. Get started with business data collection by following these guidelines.

Identify what you want more insight into

Organizations that are just getting started with business data collection have a tendency to measure anything and everything. However, keeping track of every single metric related to your business can quickly become complicated and cumbersome.

“Identify the goals first to determine how, when, and where to collect data,” says Daniela Sawyer, the founder of FindPeopleFast, a SaaS platform. It’s best to start out with two or three key performance indicators that are critical to your success and track those effectively by gathering the right data.

Be sure to consider both leading indicators and lagging indicators. Leading indicators help organizations predict future outcomes (such as the number of subscribers who will renew in a given year), while lagging indicators look at the current state of the business (such as how many prospects attended a webinar).

Choose the appropriate data-collection methods

Once you know what information you need, it’s time to determine how you’ll gain that data. There are several different data collection methods you can employ.

If you want to gather data from a large number of people, consider surveys and forms. This way, you can easily send out questions and receive responses that you can sort, filter, and analyze.

If you want to gather data from a small number of people who can provide subjective information and opinions, consider one-on-one or group interviews and focus groups. This way, you can have more of a dialogue and get deeper into specific questions.

Use software to simplify the data-collection process

To successfully collect information from stakeholders, you need to make it easy for them and for you. The right software can streamline the data-collection process to make it simple and efficient — as well as secure. As a result, you’ll spend less time managing incoming data and more time analyzing insights.

Jotform offers hundreds of business form templates that organizations can easily customize to gather the specific kind of data they need. Not only is Jotform a powerful tool for businesses, it’s also designed for ease of use. The processes for filling out forms and submitting data are straightforward and intuitive.

Automate workflows to promote continuity and consistency

In many cases, business data collection involves multistep workflows. “Collect all data randomly first and then sort it into proper categories after,” says Sawyer. Here’s another example: After a user fills out a form, you usually need to take a follow-up action. If you perform every step of the process manually, you’ll inevitably create delays.

Automating the steps helps you keep business data collection processes on track. Jotform, for example, can automatically import submission data and send an automatic, personalized message to users after they’ve submitted responses.

Review your KPIs frequently

Collecting data is one thing, but using it to glean insights is another. Be sure to periodically check the data you’re collecting and analyze it based on the key performance indicators you’ve identified.

For example, if you’re collecting data about the prospects who are signing up for webinars, create a weekly or monthly alert prompting you to investigate whether those prospects actually attended the webinars and if a sales rep reached out to them to offer more information. “Data collection can also determine product demand, customer review, and brand value,” notes Sawyer. Be sure to use it effectively to get the results you want for your business.

Now that you know what business data collection entails, it’s time to get started. Remember to focus on the key insights you want to gain from the data and to use the right software to make the process easy and efficient.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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