One of the great things about running a startup is that you’re working with a clean slate. If you have worked with a different organization before, you may have had issues with culture and people that you probably don’t want happening with your own company.

Existing organizations, especially the established ones often have settled into their own ways of doing things. Sometimes, there can be a negative disconnect between their mission and vision statements and how people actually behave. Longstanding beliefs and inertia often serve as major obstacles to change.

With your own startup, you can establish the culture that you need in order to succeed. After all, a majority of companies admit they are doing a poor job managing data.

Organizational culture isn’t simply about a set of values you wish your staff exhibit. With technology now playing a role in every part of your business, data has become central to your ways of working. Managing it well often translates to success for your business. Your desired culture must also factor in how you will manage, safeguard, and even leverage your company’s data.

Here are ways you can encourage your people to be stewards of data.

Workflow, infrastructure, and collaboration

Among your first considerations in establishing your ways of working is figuring out how you’ll be using technology to work. You should support your workflow with the right IT infrastructure. It’d be hard to be able to do anything else with your data if you aren’t even capable of creating and storing it.

While most organizations believe that a digital workplace is essential to business, only 11 percent of global companies are even seriously putting up programs to prepare their organizations for the future of work.

A key issue to avoid is preventing individuals or teams to operate in silos where data and information is withheld from others. Consolidate everyone’s output under a workflow management system so that information flows from one business task to the next. Encourage collaboration and sharing information across teams working towards common goals.

Security and vigilance

Many entrepreneurs are led to believe that startups are too small to be on cybercriminals’ radars. However, more than half of SMEs suffered from at least one cyberattack over a period of 12 months. Customer information stored in most SME’s databases can be sold in the black market for identity theft and fraud making startups a prime target for such information. Cybercriminals also prey on startups since most are ill-equipped to thwart most attacks.

Ransomware – malicious software that encrypts files in a vulnerable computers and networks where access is only restored in exchange for ransom – also pose a serious threat to SMEs. Getting locked out all of your files and computers in your whole network would cause serious downtime and lose. Paying the ransom doesn’t give any assurance that you will get back your files. 60 percent of businesses hit by cyberattacks often have to close in 6 months’ time.

Web security company Indusface recommends putting a cybersecurity strategy in place. Invest on securing both on-premises and online infrastructures. Many companies fall victim to attacks due to human error, negligence, and ignorance so train your people to properly use your infrastructure. Make them aware of social engineering attacks such as phishing and fraud and encourage abiding by the best security practices such as using strong passwords and avoiding using office resources other than for work.

Transparency and accountability

One area that you should definitely digitize is finance. By digitizing your bookkeeping, you can always be on top of your cash flow whether it’s money going and going out. Being careless with where your money goes is a surefire way to fail.

If you are in retail, consider using all-in-one point-of-sale systems like Vend that combines your cash register with your inventory. More comprehensive services such as Sighted offer consolidated platforms to manage your business’ finances. These services integrate functions like invoicing, payments, and expense tracking and additional features such as dashboards and reports.

Using such systems even make allow you to be flexible with how you charge clients. You could offer payment plans, retainer arrangements, or even discounts on future business. Such efforts could help increase customer loyalty.

Expense monitoring is also crucial for startups. As much as you’d want to rely on an honesty system with how staff spend their budgets, it’s still good practice to record all expenses with proper documentation. Rotten eggs may have slipped your selection process and having the right documentation helps you weed them out as quickly as possible.

Data-driven decision making

Developments in analytics and business intelligence (BI) have enabled businesses to take advantage of the data that they have and use it to guide decision making. The availability of cloud-based analytics and BI services has made it easy even for startups to implement data efforts.

The emergence of self-service BI also allows any of your staff members to be able to perform analyses on your data. This not only empowers them to review data concerning their tasks but they can also seek out trends and uncover new insights. These can help you with your decision making and strategies.

Dashboards also provide you an honest picture of the state of your business so that you can readily implement changes where necessary. These dashboards can also be shared with the rest of your team so that they too can appreciate how their efforts are affecting all areas of the business.

Data stewardship

Ultimately, you’d want everyone in your organization to commit to being stewards not only of your data but your business as well. However, developing such a culture requires careful planning, investment, and drive on your part.

It’s also important to put in place systems that encourage efficiency, security, transparency, and accountability. In addition, these systems should also inspire sharing and collaboration. Adopting the right set of tools is just as important as developing the proper mindset in order to create a culture where everyone cares about and appreciates the value of data.

 

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  • “Organizational culture isn’t simply about a set of values you wish your staff exhibit. With technology now playing a role in every part of your business, data has become central to your ways of working. Managing it well often translates to success for your business.”

    New businesses need to clearly define their relationships with data from the beginning. It is true that data can help the business run more smoothly, but it is much easier to put the systems in place early on than to implement them later.