5 most common problems with data in a franchise network

Are you overwhelmed with the options and amount of data on offer within your franchise network, but can't quite figure out the best way to tap into it in a usable way?

We're all generating so much business data every single day, that this is a common problem according to Mark Jenkins, who is an expert in how franchise companies can access and utilise the data they generate.

Five (5) key problems in utilising your franchise data

1. Access to the right information when you need it

"Some organisations are able to connect to the data sources, but many are finding that they're going in and printing off reports or accumulating data on a one-off basis. They haven't got any continuity of data, so it's one-off and it's very frustrating and time consuming. So access to the data when you need it to be able to answer the questions that you want is critical."

2. Data silos

"A natural flow on to actually having access to the data is then how the data is stored. And we find that most franchise groups have grown through acquiring best of breed apps. It might be a point of sale application, a CRM application. And then once they've got those apps, they find that each one of them holds data and there's little cross-referencing of data across those systems. 

Franchise systems end up with a series of data silos which aren't talking to each other. So when you start to then ask questions like, 'I wonder whether that customer is in multiple databases or multiple applications?' it can't be answered, and it's very frustrating. So cross-referencing data across data silos and aggregating that data into one common data source is really important."

3. Governance

"This flows directly on from the data silos problem. What happens is that if there's a number of different sources of data, there's quite often a number of different versions of the truth, and we want one version of the truth. 

A typical business analyst will be sourcing data from multiple applications and another business analyst could be doing the same thing and effectively, they're drawing out source data that may well be different. So governance, which is really about establishing a common data layer across the business, aggregating those silos and managing those silos into one clear data source, is critical. 

One view of your franchisee

When we're talking about those data silos, we're referring to things like the point of sale data, CRM data, customer data, there might be some product or production data, there's typically going to be back office data, (like) financial data. All of a sudden, simply if you wanted to have one view of the franchisee, for example, they are going to be represented in each of those data sources.

Being able to have a universal identifier across all of those single sources in one platform, or simply what we call a data warehouse, enables you then to interrogate that data with accuracy and you've got one version of the truth."

4. The gatekeeper

"The fourth most common problem is around the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is typically going to be an IT person, or it could be the CFO, or a CIO. And what we've found is is that the demand for data has really outpaced the resources available within franchisors. 

So one person has become responsible, not only for managing the IT needs, but they're now responsible for the full spectrum of data requirements in a franchise, which has really grown over a period of time. Effectively, it becomes a funnel where there's one person responsible for all of the data resources for the business, and so everything is slowed down. 

It becomes very frustrating to get things actioned in terms of requests for data. So either the franchisor invests in more people, which is really expensive, or they may choose to partner with a third party to be able to provide that service for them more quickly and typically at a lower cost."

5. Speed-to-value

"The fifth most common problem with data is almost like the aggregation of all of those last four, which is speed-to-value. 

It's the frustration that everyone has great ideas within the organisation as to what they would like to do with data and typically they're going to be told, yes, 'we can do that'. 

However, the ROI on that particular project diminishes because of the length of time it takes to deliver it. And so the speed-to-value for these ideas is absolutely critical so that data can be utilised really efficiently and effectively, and the ROI can be presented very quickly.

Once again, this comes down to infrastructure and resources. So it's having the right platform in place and then having the specific resources, which are typically data specific resources, and data specialists to be able to get those answers quickly for you."

What to do about these problems?

Three (3) options

"Well, really you've got three options. 

The first is to do nothing. Well, in fairness, just to be really patient, you'll get your results, but it'll take a long time. 

The second is to invest quite heavily in the resources and the infrastructure that you will need, the platform to deliver that. Once again, it's a viable option and an expensive option. 

The third is then to look to partner with organisations who have the skillset, have the platform ready to go, and can actually prove the ROI a lot quicker for you."