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Inventory and Data Visualization

Posted on: December 7th, 2020

Money is a fundamental part of business.  But we rarely, if ever handle money directly.  Instead, money represents the things that make our businesses go. Whether that’s physical inventory or time in services, inventory and data visualization can play an important role.

We are very comfortable understanding that the numbers on a report represent dollars and cents.  And we recognize the importance of understanding how those dollars move through our bank accounts to pay and be paid.  But money is not the only thing represented by numbers.  

At some point, every business develops a reporting system that represents what they do, or how they produce their key products or services.  These reports often begin in Excel or Google Sheets, but as a business grows, the need for accurate, timely reporting grows with it. 

The MLA Business Redeemed Process begins with defining reality, whether that is financial or in other areas of your business. Often, you can’t get a clear picture of your finances until you have an accurate representation of these other parts of your company.

In many ways, physical inventory is easy to visualize. We can go and look at or count the number of parts in a warehouse.  And we all have a sense of how the time passes in a working day.  But in other ways, this makes them even harder to represent in reports.  How can we be confident that the number on the page actually represents reality?

Ken Colvin brings experience with visual analytics to MLA.  Ken worked for Emerson Electric before coming to MLA and realized the power of real time information analysis and inventory visibility to make solid decisions.  “For everyone in an organization to work towards the same goal they need a single source of truth,” Ken says.  “Otherwise, everyone is working off their own idea of reality.”

Working together and changing behavior are key challenges we have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Companies find themselves separated from each other and their customers, creating a greater need for communication and clear information.  And decision-makers have been forced to adjust to changes in their workforce and disruptions in supply chains.  All of this makes a clear picture of reality even more necessary and valuable.

Helping a business turn data into actionable information is what Ken enjoys doing.  “How can the data tell the story?” he will often ask.  “How is this information going to drive decisions or change behavior?”  A lot of information already exists in businesses, but no one has asked what it means or where it fits.  Sometimes information needs to be qualified or enhanced to complete the picture.  The objective is a clear, compelling, and up-to-date picture of all essential components of a business.

This effort has been greatly helped by data visualization tools readily available on the market.  All financial software packages and Enterprise Resource Planning platforms include visualizations.  And stand-alone products, such as PowerBI or Domo can take any data from almost any source and turn it into a dynamic and compelling visual report.

But more reports and visualizations in themselves will not solve anything.  The key is thinking through where the data comes from, and how it drives behavior.  We are constantly surrounded by information, much of it in visual form.  But information that applies to the decisions we must make next is often in short supply.

MLA can help you develop the right reports to guide and grow your business.  It’s our mission to protect what you have, guide you in the moment, and empower you for the future.  That begins with finance, but it doesn’t end there.  We help you develop the strategy and solutions that get you there.  For MLA, that’s Business Redeemed.