We are living in the information age! Farmers and their advisors have access to ever increasing amounts of data. However, data does not equal knowledge. To be effectively used in making decisions, data must go through a transformation process that involves six basic steps: 1) data collection, 2) data organization, 3) data processing, 4) data integration, 5) data reporting and finally, 6) data utilization. Through this process data is transformed into information, which becomes knowledge, if interpreted correctly. However, mistakes at any level of the process compromise the entire system, resulting in useless information. The Dairy Herd Improvement program is a premiere example of the process. Standardized data collection procedures, and the definitions and formulas which organize the data, are the foundation of the program. The weak link with DHI data is in the utilization step, as many producers fail to review their reports. Applying the process to financial data is needed to supplement the efforts of the Farm Financial Standards Council, which has done an excellent job in developing standards for certain phases of the process. Educators and industry professionals in Pennsylvania and the Northeast collaborated to develop a standardized chart of accounts for dairy accounting systems, which is now available as a PDF document or in a QuickBooks backup file. Analysis and planning tools that can automatically integrate data from accounting systems using this chart of accounts will enable producers to utilize their accounting and other information systems to make well informed decisions.