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8 Signs Your Data is Out of Control


Ah, that’s good. Your first sip of coffee as you sit down at your desk. You open up your emails and…it’s like an avalanche hits you.

Your coffee goes cold as you scroll down, opening one here and there, skipping the ones that look like they can wait.

Here’s the latest version of the Excel sheet for those shoes- better download that one. Save it in the right folder, with the latest version number. Ok, what’s next…a supplier in China wants clarification about a color…don’t forget to print your notes for the meetings with design and product development…and your boss could really do with that report today, but you need some numbers from the logistics side and they’re not getting back to you…

Sounding way too familiar? The modern workplace is awash with digital and offline data, and the fashion industry works at such speed that it gets out of control, fast. Here are eight clear signs you need to tame your wild data!

1. Where’s that email?

You know the one, that email you got last week from the supplier saying something about leather availability. What was the name of your contact there? Mary? Marie? Better do a search…nope, nothing. Ok, let’s scroll back through hundreds of last week’s emails. Was it last Wednesday? There’s a big, flashing sign that information is getting hard to manage – it’s when opening your inbox feels like wading into a murky swamp. It’s a sign that it is time for a change!

2. Copy, Paste, Repeat

Wait a minute, wasn’t working in fashion supposed to be fun and creative? But by now, you could add ‘Copy/Paste Expert’ to your resume. And the trouble with manual data entry is that while it’s repetitive, you also need to concentrate…or that little copy/paste slip-up will cause big problems when the sourcing team realizes you’ve requested fabric in cerulean blue instead of indigo. Oops…

3. How do you do That Thing?

You see Mark usually fills out those order forms with the weird codes, but he’s away this week…maybe you could ask his assistant. Oh, Mark never showed him how to do those? If information is so inaccessible it lives in your colleagues’ heads or in scribbled notes in a desk drawer instead of in a central system, it’s a foolproof recipe for half-done work, delays and mistakes!

4. Spreadsheet Hell

Having nightmares about swarms of little green squares flying at you, or being lost in a maze of columns and rows? Ok, maybe not quite, but it’s common for companies like yours to end up with hundreds of different spreadsheets each season, often with several seasons in development at once. Which is the most up-to-date? Where’s the one with updated costing info? If you’re living in spreadsheet hell, you’ll know the particular pain of searching sheets for the right information and hoping no-one else has updated it in the meantime.

5. Desperately Seeking Data

You’re sitting at your desk wondering how much handier it would be to have the shipping cost data from the logistics team right now, seeing as that report on costing was due yesterday and you’re getting frantic emails about it. Shame all of their stuff is in its own offline system…guess you’ll just have to wait until someone has the time to look it up and send it over. When information lives all over the place in different silos, online and offline, it gets trapped in bottlenecks that you can’t control. Talk about frustrating!

6. Another Meeting?!

Meetings about which spreadsheet is the most up-to-date version…meetings about that meeting for the people who missed the big meeting….if there’s one thing most people want to avoid at all costs, it’s more meetings! But when no-one is sure whether you’re on version 6 or version 7 and when everyone has their own version of the truth that they are certain is the most recent hiding deep in their documents folder, they become inevitable. A calendar choc-a-block with meetings is a sure sign you’re losing the battle with the data monster.

7. I’m so Tired…

If you come home from work tired, stressed and overwhelmed, data overload could be your problem. Your days are spent trawling through spreadsheets and emails for that one nugget of information you need and hassling colleagues for the latest updated details…even though you know they’re working just as hard as you are. No wonder you’re tired! Getting control of your data could be the best thing you do for your wellbeing at work.

8. Helllloooooo out There…

That guy in sourcing! He never sends the details you asked for on time! Chances are you’re not the only one having communication issues with colleagues…and they might be having the same problem with you. You know that everyone’s doing the best they can at work, but chasing down information and falling behind on goals is bound to be causing you trouble. You feel comfort in knowing that you and your colleagues are in the same boat, trying to row together while hoping the ship isn’t sinking!