Does everyone in your business, who has to make a decision as part of their job, have access to the data and tools to enable them to make the best possible choice?

Unless you happen to work for Amazon or Google, your business would probably mark itself as “Could do better”. You know that your decision-making could be improved if only you had access to better information. So what factors should you consider to become a more data-driven organisation?

Is the data available?
Data needs to be able to flow freely around an organisation, which depends on good systems and processes:-

  • Can your data get to where is it needed?
  • Are there any blockages in the system?
  • Does the flow of data need to be speeded up in any particular areas?

How good is the quality of your data?
You should consider whether the data is both correct and consistent. Sloppy use of language and different uses of data between departments or markets might lead to data being incompatible. For example, the term “revenue” for a certain time period might have a multitude of different interpretations. Does this “revenue” refer to:-

  • Net or gross of VAT / sales taxes?
  • Goods invoiced, despatched or cash received?
  • Customer sales (EPOS), warehouse withdrawals or ex-factory sales?

Although none of these numbers are “wrong” in themselves, it is often a huge source of confusion within a business and needs to be addressed early. It is practically impossible to run a company if you cannot get a single consistent view on a number as basic as your revenue.

Are your reporting tools up to the job?
Every decision-maker should have access to the data and reporting tools that they need to perform their job effectively. With the vast volumes of data that are being generated every day, businesses need experts with specialised analytics tools and skills to help their management teams make sense of and take advantage the available information. For example:-

  • Reporting tools to help users get the numbers quickly and easily. These tools should be flexible and fast.
  • Visualisation, such as graphs etc., to help identify trends and to clear out random “noise” in the data.
  • Analytical tools to help uncover hidden patterns and to turn thousands of data points into a small number of actionable facts.

Barriers to being a truly data-driven organisation are generally not technical and IT related – but rather historic and cultural. Grappling early with difficult issues, such as data consistency and availability, will do much to pave the way for future software projects.

Terry Hogan will be presenting at TFM&A 2015 in London. Come and listen to him speak on Thursday 26th February at 11.00 on “Enabling the data-driven organisation”. Find out more about the “Six barriers to the data-driven organisation” and tips to enable a truly data-driven organisation.

If you are unable to attend TFM&A, but would like to find out more about better use of data in your business, please do get in touch. Golden Orb are a firm of management consultants, specialising in business analytics, mathematical modelling and bespoke software to solve complex problems.