SaaS Presents Unexpected Data Management Challenges

March 5, 2018
SaaS Presents Unexpected Data Management Challenges

Most enterprises find that Software as a Service (SaaS) offers clear benefits, including cost savings, an improved end-user experience, and scalability. Turning maintenance and updates over to a SaaS provider is also a win for IT, allowing them to focus on big-picture planning for the organization and optimizing infrastructure.

In some cases, the SaaS solutions implemented by various lines of business create an unintended consequence. Each department begins accumulating a wealth of data that can be useful in analyzing and predicting customer behaviors, streamlining business processes, and planning for the future. Different systems tend to handle data differently, and companies soon find they have a lot of disparate data to manage, and no way to systematically handle it. Common challenges you should watch out for include:

Duplicate data sets: Two different departments using two different SaaS solutions may record the same customers and the same sales, but with a slightly different format that makes it hard to compile data effectively. It’s important to first identify duplicates within the department’s system and then establish a way to flag duplicates once the data is being compiled for analysis.

Conflicting data: Compiling data is challenging when there’s conflicting data between systems. There are two ways to handle this and assign preference: System of Record or Last Modified. System of Record assigns preference to the software that is designated as the authority for that area, such as the customer relationship management system (CRM) for client records. Last Modified designates the system that was most recently updated.

Formats: Limiting options for data entry can eliminate some formatting problems. For instance, rather than allowing customers to enter their state in a text box, create state choices instead so that your preference of “Missouri” instead of “MO” is consistent across your systems. Establish policies for internal data entry so that these formatting differences are addressed.

Obtaining related data: A common challenge is capturing all of the related data that may be stored in disparate systems. For instance, a customer’s sales history could include not only products purchased from inventory, but also service hours that are recorded in a separate SaaS solution. Determine unique identifiers, such as email addresses that help you capture every related object across your software solutions.

Data that is continuously updated: There’s a lot of value in being able to count on the continuous updating of data that feeds to a system dashboard. On the flip side, as soon as you create a set of reports, they’re undoubtedly obsolete. Ensuring your source data is correct can be a data management headache, but there are automated data pipeline tools that can help address this and other real-time reporting challenges.

At Enterprise Visions, we know how to leverage the best SaaS solutions to help you grow your business without data management challenges. Contact us to learn more about the possibilities for creating efficiencies and cost savings through a cloud solution.