Even though many business activities freeze in the time of coronavirus, it's time to sit down, take a breath and do the company "clean-up". In other words, it's time to do things for which you didn't have much time before the coronavirus outbreak. In many businesses, it's a common practise that people use multiple tools and apps, where they share data (from documents to images, presentations, meetings notes, etc.). And here is the problem. When you are searching for something specific, you don't know which tool or app it's stored in - there are so many options where it can be (Google Drive, your desktop, project management tool you use, downloads folder). And since nothing like "one place for all data" exists, you have to check them all (ineffective, right?). And yeah, having essential information in one place is the fundamental thought of the single source of truth concept. Let's dive deep into this topic and see how your team can benefit from following the idea.
Single Source of Truth - What Does It Actually Mean?
Let's start with the definition of the term "single source of truth". Well, you can google dozens of long-boring explanations, but to put it simply, let's stick to this short definition. Single source of truth is a way (concept) in an organization that ensures that all data needed for making business decisions is stored in one place.
Basically, SSOT (single source of truth) can be anything from a single document, shared folder, cloud solution or any more sophisticated data information architecture your company (or a team) uses. The most crucial things about the single source of truth are accessibility and high level of up-to-dateness.
Double-check that everyone from your company (or a team) has access to the place. When running a remote business, it becomes even more crucial. There might be some obstacles of getting in touch with your remote folks (time zones woes), and hence, everyone has to have independent access (not waiting for your colleagues to give you access when the time zone is 8 hours behind yours).
Besides, your company (or team) should maintain the SSOT place regularly. Every time anything is decided or changed, it has to be either stored or/and updated. It's crucial to keep relevant and fresh information because your team will make decisions based on it.
SSOT Fundamental Thought Can Be Applied to Day-to-Day Scenarios
Single source of truth doesn't have to be "only "about the information needed for making business decisions on the high-level meaning. But you can apply the fundamental thought of having all the required information in one place for other scenarios.
Let's assume that you work on a client's project (e.g. you are preparing a marketing campaign for your client). But not only you, but your entire team participates. There is lots of information going back and forth with your clients and teammates - sharing and uploading documents, ideas, content, some conversation records and similar. This scenario is a great example when you should store all the data in one place - to make sure that all information is accessible and you have it at hand whenever you need.
For this specific case, you can use, e.g. any project management tools or anything that suits your team's or company's needs. But keep in mind that the main thing again is to have everything in one place. If you need to find out the campaign brief, you have to be able to find it there.
Another example might be the need to keep your entire team updated about the things going on in your company (hiring updates, changes, new projects, etc.). To make all the information available to your team, it's also crucial to store it in one place so that everyone can go back to the information anytime. Making this kind of information available to the entire team was actually one of the reasons for developing Scrumie.
Why Is a Single Source of Truth so Important?
From the examples mentioned in the article, it's clear that there are a couple of benefits of implementing SSOT in your company or a team. So, just to recap:
- One place - if you store your data in multiple tools, it's challenging to search for something specific. You just don't know where to look for it. Spreading data and information among various places can lead to misinformation and non-transparency.
- Accessibility - If data is shared in one place, you don't have to bother with any sharing settings of each piece of information (document, presentation, guidelines, etc.). Share the SSOT place with everyone who's eligible for the access, and it's done.
- Easy updating - Every time anything changes and you have your data in more places, you have to update each of them so that they contain the freshest data. Takes time, right?
- Not bothering your colleagues - "Hey, I'm looking for the campaign brief, do you know where it's stored"? Ehm, no. Obviously, this's not effective. Your colleague has to stop concentrating on what he/she is working on and helps you search for the campaign brief. Well, he/she loses quite a lot of time by that, right?
- Your team is updated (and in sync) - When implementing SSOT in your team, you can store the meeting notes, internal documents and all relevant information in one place so that the team is in sync.
How to Build a Single Source of Truth?
Well, start as early as possible. Running a startup? It's a good practice to start even in the early stage of your business. You and your colleagues (if you have already some teammates) get used to this practice early. For the newcomers, it'll also be easier to catch up with the established process. It's getting much harder when you start building a single source of truth in a matured business - sure, it's possible but takes more time and effort. And money in the end. Think of it from a long perspective. Like an investment in your business processes.
The structure of your company's single source of truth place depends mainly on your business model, the number of colleagues, and more. But for the start, you can just kick off the SSOT initiative by a single shared folder. Keep in mind that it's essential to keep the discipline - sharing all data and updating them whenever anything is changed.
Summing up, the benefits of implementing a single source of truth in your business are straightforward. Yeah, it needs time, effort and discipline. But once you get used to it, you'll enjoy the benefits.