Collecting Data For Business Analysis
By: Ian Richardson, Managing Partner – Richardson & Richardson Consulting
At my managed I.T. company for years we had a driving principle towards collecting data. We were installing software products across our client base to ensure we could collect every piece of data that we potentially could. We were archiving the data with the goal of creating trending data. We had built out key performance indicators (KPIs) across multiple areas of the business and had started vomiting this data in front of our clients in the form of reports and gauges.
We Were Collecting Data Incorrectly
What we were doing was a classic example of Sun Tzu’s famous advice for battlefield commanders – “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Now we didn’t fail at the organization, but we certainly lost ground and made plenty of avoidable mistakes. Clients churned, staff moved on to different opportunities, we even had to do a round of layoffs at the peak of a market where it was impossible to hire new staff.
Collecting Data Is Important, But Only When You’re Using It
We knew that collecting data was important. We knew that data could help us, and help our clients make more informed decisions that led to better outcomes.
However, we didn’t stop and consider an overarching strategy on what the goals, strategies, ideas, tactics, and risks associated with the data were. We didn’t create a process around the data itself, from how it was collected, to how it was analyzed, presented, and feedback collected.
How To Make A Plan for Collecting Data
Looking in the rearview mirror, we had many key takeaways and lessons learned from the experience. We have collected those into our whitepaper “How to make a plan for your data.”
Here Are Four Steps For Collecting Data For Business Analysis:
- The CEO/Managing Partner/Executive Director/Organization’s top leader needs to have a clear definition of vision for the company that is documented. That documentation needs to accessible, clear, and relatable to the entire organization (as appropriate).
- The Leadership team at the organization needs to have the key pieces of data for their responsible areas documented and understand how that data gets collected and/or generated.
- The chief executive and leadership team need to come together into a space where all can talk as equals around the data and gain perspective on how that data extends outside of verticals in the business.
- That perspective should be captured and digested internally in the organization, and then pulled together into a map, diagram, or other aid to show how data interacts with the business teams, clients, vendors/suppliers, competitors, and other areas.
With those 4 actions handled alongside other best practices (take a look at that whitepaper) being implemented, we were able to turn the mass of data that we had collected into a focused tool we could use to cut away extraneous noise, bring exceptions to process to light, and make visible business “landmines” before they blew up in our faces. Client satisfaction increased, vendor participation and engagement improved, and the team executed better and reported a material change for the better in their stress level and work/life balance. Those business goals I had referred to earlier also happened to start being routinely achieved.
If you’re struggling making sense of the chaos in your world or wondering how to use some of the data you’re collecting, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
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