Using Data Analytics to Improve Business Processes and Help Drive Strategy
14 Mar 2022
Using data to answer questions and solve problems is nothing new in the business world. What is different is the amount of data that is now being collected. Nowadays there are so many types of data being collected that they can’t be processed for decision making by just the human mind. Fortunately, there are now very sophisticated analytics tools available to help.
The most successful companies are those that have figured out how to do data analytics the right way and how to cut through the thousands of data points that don’t really matter and focus on those that do. Having an analytics tool is just the first step in using data to drive decisions. You also need to understand how to feed those tools the right data in the right way.
Think Bigger, Look for Company-Wide Impact
To get started with your data analytics effort you should make sure that every department in the company gets involved because very often the same types of data can be used to solve multiple problems or make multiple decisions across your company. It is also critical to have the support of company leadership as there will likely be an impact on most people’s jobs to make sure the right data is being collected accurately. Leadership will also need to help integrate the efforts across all departments to prevent departmental silos of data that could be beneficial to other departments.
First, ask yourself, why are we going to do this? Are you trying to cut waste? Improve customer experience? Improve employee experience? Sell more products? So, determine the most important goals of the work first. Maybe do a company-wide ‘needs assessment’ to pull out the most wasteful or inefficient process and focus on one of those first.
Strategize to Collect the Right Data
Once you’ve selected the issue to focus on, next identify what are the necessary pieces of data needed and then how those different types of data can fit together. This exercise will ideally be done by a team of stakeholders. Have each person take five minutes and write about a possible solution to the problem. Next, each person passes their partial solution to the next person who reads it and adds to it or improves it in some way, again for five minutes. Do this until each person has given input on each of the different possible solutions.
Now it’s time for the team to decide which solution has the most merit. Possibly get input from other affected persons at this stage. For example, the team might need to validate that the data can be efficiently collected before choosing that solution.
Demonstrate the Value
Finally, the team can use their critical thinking skills to design a test for the solution to prove to themselves that the plan will work. Execute the test on a small amount of the data. If the test works, get buy-in from the folks that might have to help collect the data by showing them the potential value to the business of doing so.
Happy decision making!