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Data is NOT a four-letter word!

I'm a bit of an expert on four-letter words, and trust me, data isn't one of them.

Data is everywhere: big data, meta data, and data visualizations just to name a few. There are even data analysts to sort through it all. It's all very impressive and may seem out of reach for the average person.

Data entry is time consuming. Once you have the data, then what do you do with it?

I bet you're thinking about data like this lady...

However, there is one part of the data-verse that is available to anyone with a bank account: bank data feeds. Stay with me on this - it's awesome.

All those checks you write and deposits you make are nothing but rows of data in your bank account. You can link up your accounting software to your bank. Once you set up the link with your login credentials, all that data can be brought into your software automatically. All banks and accounting software programs have this functionality.

Using data feeds works in two ways.

  1. For transactions you've already entered, like a check, the bank feed will match up the transaction when it clears. Don't worry, it won't duplicate a transaction that's already entered.

  2. If you don't have the transaction recorded in your system yet, you can use the bank feed to enter it.

Bank feeds can help cut down on data entry time and confirm your cash position daily. It's like having a bank reconciliation done daily. In fact, when it's time to do the official month-end bank reconciliation, you're already done. It's as simple as typing in the date and balance - you've already done the rec every day!

But wait - it gets better. This works for credit cards too.

Instead of having to wait on a statement or log into the credit card website manually, you can download transactions into your system as they post on the card.

Say one of your employees puts a personal charge on a company credit card. Had you waited for the statement, the charge may have been overlooked. Now, you can see the charge when it posts and have the time to look into it properly.

By having access to the data daily, you can be proactive about spending. Data feeds help you monitor and reduce expenses as well as reduce the potential for fraud. At minimum, when you ask about a charge the day after it happens, you set the tone with employees that you are monitoring usage. Ideally, you can use the data to establish a company policy for expenses or track usage by employee.

Tell me again why you think data is a four-letter word?

Using bank feeds is a simple, inexpensive way to harness data. You don't have to be tech savvy to set up data feeds or a data analyst to understand the results. You can spend your time more effectively, reduce expenses, and reduce the potential for fraud.

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