April 29, 2024

Navigating the Data Maze: People, Processes, and Software

Manufacturers face a common conundrum: If we have software running everything, why are we still struggling to get data?

The more data captured, it seems, the harder it is to find. Decision-makers are supposed to have endless information at their disposal. Instead, they are hunting for numbers and wondering if what they find is complete, updated, and accurate.

More than just frustrating, this data maze creates very real risks for manufacturers. Factories large and small are making difficult decisions right now about expanding, relocating, consolidating, and more. These decisions have many ways to go wrong and just a few ways to go right, making it imperative to act according to the most accurate information available.

Manufacturers need a single source of truth to inform the entire company. Instead, many have data silos, segregated visibility, and disconnected stakeholders. This problem is widespread in manufacturing for three reasons, which we explain below, along with why each cause is also a crucial part of the solution.


Employees often resist best practices, avoid changes, and work around new solutions if doing things the old way seems easier. As a result, data gets scattered across various systems and spreadsheets. People put their own data requirements above what is right for the company—which is understandable but only makes the data maze more confusing.

The solution lies in first thinking about the problem from your team members’ perspectives. How much time and energy is wasted and how is morale affected when every employee has less data than they need? It is then up to team members, whether a manager or outside consultant, to convince leadership to make changes, even if they may be expensive or disruptive.


Processes can make data mazes more complicated by moving data between multiple silos or creating extra steps for people to complete. Most often, however, the problem is lack of processes. Without clear, comprehensive rules about handling data, it soon ends up in multiple places, formats, and versions. 

Putting those rules in place—eg. all data must enter the accounting system, no data may enter Excel—prevents the data maze from growing while supporting the growth of a single source of truth. People also benefit because processes eliminate confusion around data management.


Data silos are created because companies lack a centralized solution that can send data back and forth between all departments. Instead, they have point solutions specialized to specific workflows, departments, or decision-makers, forcing data into disconnected databases and complicating any effort to bridge such sources.

Software like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution brings as much data and as many features as possible under one umbrella–into a single source of truth. An ERP provides an all-in-one resource to tear down the walls of the data maze and replace them with wide-open access to information. An ERP also gives people a shared space to communicate and collaborate, along with tools to enforce and improve policies.

A Guide Through the Data Maze

People, processes, and software are all vital parts of the solution—but perhaps nothing helps get through the data maze more than a trusted technology partner to guide things forward. Technology partners like Guide Technologies have been through this process before, multiple times, and they can see the company from the outside to make unbiased recommendations.

Choose a partner with expertise in data AND manufacturing. Contact Guide Technologies to turn your data into a source of value, not frustration.