Knowing the Differences Between Structured and Unstructured Data can Streamline Your Workflow and Save You Time

It’s Saturday; I usually leave the house early to meet a buddy for a run around “the island.” Thankfully this morning, there was a break in the weather, and I got to catch up on life during our quick six-mile jaunt.

Not even a full minute into it, we realized this morning was different; the President was in town. There were sheriff cars, and northbound traffic on Palm Beach was closed past Mar A Lago, which means we couldn’t take our typical route.

I came to learn that my buddy just got back from tending to business in the Carolinas. By mile one, he told me he acquired a Geotechnical company. What?! This was big news because he just left his job about a month ago.

Mile three, I asked, what the first week on the job as the owner was like? He swiftly replied, in mid-stride, inquisitive. “I asked a lot of questions. I observed, I listened and took notes.” He said there’s much to learn, and I can already tell there’s a lot of room to optimize workflow, and that’s exciting to me. I retained the company’s founder for a few years to ensure I’m able to transfer the knowledge. And, all things considered, that may be the easy part. The challenge will likely come in the transfer of affinity and the re-engineering of culture.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker

The majority of the business comes by way of the old founder’s (let’s call him Jerry) cell phone. A text from a customer goes something like, “Hey Jerry, I have a job on Tuesday the 28th. These are the details. Can you confirm by tomorrow that you’ll have a crew on-site?”

Using Structured and Unstructured Data to Your Advantage

Between breaths and comments about my left calf cramping, I ask questions that help me better understand how he plans on handling the variables at play. My mind is already processing possible solutions. Considering his options, I explain to him there are two kinds of data, structured and unstructured. And the ways you implement these at your company will either help or hurt the workflow, especially at scale.

Structured Data

In the case of job requests coming in via text message, there’s an opportunity to institute structured data in the form of a job management system. The obvious and maybe uncomfortable question is, who does the responsibility falls on to perform the task of entering the data? Does Jerry do it even though there may be resistance due to the learning curve? Or does Jerry pass along the information to an administrator? These options require leadership and emotional intelligence on my buddy’s part to ensure success; the tech decision is the easy part.

Unstructured Data

All of the listening and observations he did last week are currently saved as notes. Those individual vessels of knowledge are essential to him strategizing the new workflow. So, for now, having the notes held in his personal ecosystem is ok, but it won’t be for long. At some point, others will need to access these insights to ideate and collaborate on as well.

In the form of notes, unstructured data is more challenging to scale across the organization because the data often lives in many places, making it hard to find and index. In this case, I explain as my endurance starts to fade somewhere around mile five how bundleIQ can be used to solve this problem. By creating a workspace and ensuring that company notes are treated as a source of truth in the system, you can build upon and scale the knowledge.

Read, Why Choosing bundleIQ Over Google Docs 99% of the Time Makes Sense.

Winding down as the sun was showing its face, we took some time to take in the beauty of a new day. Our conversation brought up a feeling of gratitude and a renewed sense of excitement for the journeys we share as entrepreneurs. The experience left me thinking about how cool it is to run and support each other along the way.

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