Actionable Management Reporting

Except from my upcoming book on analytics for the small business owner…

One question I get asked a lot is what should someone do when they know the data they are reporting and/or using in their analysis is not the best data available?

  • Typically, Excel and PowerPoint are the primary tools used to provide management reporting to a company’s leadership. In the past few years there have been major technology innovations in business intelligence applications and data visualization software that have taken management reporting to a whole new level.
  • Recruiting has seen a huge increase in number and types of reporting tools available to deliver very fast and very detailed recruitment analytics.
  • This leads up to the concept of a business dashboard… which we will get to later.

No matter what part of the business you work in, the first thing to do is to define the current Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) being used in decision-making.  Often right off the bat, some of the KPIs being reported aren’t even being used.

You can do a simple survey, asking end users to rank in order of importance the KPIs they get. Also ask if the ones at the bottom are even useful or should they be eliminated if no one is using them.

At the same time you should be working on understanding what computations go into each KPI. Often we just do simple counts, total and averages that mask more important data. On the flip side, we tend to over complicate things with extravagant weighing and scoring. Either way, we need to make sure we know exactly what is being reported and how does the final data point come to its end state.

The next step is to look at the data architecture to make sure there is nothing happening upstream that might impact the data we are using in the KPIs. Before making changes to the KPIs we want to have the full view of what happens before the data gets to the end user.

Now we are at the point where we can start experimenting. What happens when we swap out data points? Or if we change a variable in a calculation? Or we pull the data from a different source? The questions are endless. Pick a few, make some changes in a test environment and start sharing the updated KPI data. See if it has more value with the end users.

Again, this shouldn’t be hard. But of course in many organizations a lot of consequences can result from a simple change to just one KPI. Spreadsheets may have to be reformatted, review processes may have to be updated, and dashboards may have to be redesigned. But in the end, what is more important? Making decisions with crappy data or setting a standard to let the reporting process evolve as the business evolves?

This come back to my point earlier, changing KPIs is as much sales as it is analysis… that you have to be ready to share a story, back it up with data, and really influence the minds of senior management that updating the KPIs makes good business sense.

If you are at a point where you are trying to figure out what KPIs aren’t working anymore or you need help in building a business case to change some KPIs, let me know. I’m here to help.

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Business Strategy with Analytics – Aligning a business strategy to drive an organization forward requires a robust analytics solution. Businesses who have good analytics tend to be much more profitable and efficient then ones that do not. DMAIPH has helped dozens of companies in both the U.S. and the Philippines with adding more data analysis in their business strategy. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to find out what we can do to help you align your business strategy with analytics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adding Three More Metrics to the Next 5-Year Plan

So, as year five winds down and I have reflected on the key metrics I established back in 2012, it seems the right time to add a few more data points to the mix.

For me, having metrics that you can measure against progress and use to make educated course corrections is the most important part of any business plan.

My first five-year plan was all about establishing myself as one of the top Analytics experts in the Philippines. Based on the number of Filipinos I have trained, the number of Filipino colleges and universities I have worked with and having established a profitable business, it is now time to think about how to expand my horizons.

Going forward the goal is not to just have one of the top analytics brands in the Philippines, but to expand that brand name outward. We will expand in terms of both geography and in terms of content offerings.

I love new things, so the sky is the limit, but I have these 3 things in mind.

The first new metric I will add will be number of trainings with partner speakers. I want to take analytics out of just being for analyst and find ways to use my gifts to empower and educate non analytics people as well.

To do this, we will partner with other innovative and progressive minded trainers and speakers here in the Philippines.

The second metric will be based on geography. I have given talks and trainings mostly in Metro Manila. On the average I have visited about one province a year to deliver a presentation or conduct a training.

Over the next 5 years we will plan activities outside not only Manila, but outside the Philippines as well. I already have one webinar lined up for a U.S. audience in February and will be looking for more places to talk about analytics. Sharing my passion with the world!

The third metric will involve revenue. I can’t imagine any business being successful and not having good analytics when it comes to increasing revenue and growing profits.

Originally the primary financial metric I cared about was net profit. Could I build a business based on analytics that could generate enough money for me to comfortably live on?

Now that we can positively answer that question with a resounding yes, the next question is can we sustain it?

When I started, I had one source of income, analytics training.

As of now we have revenue coming in from 4 sources of income; analytics training, management consulting, outsourcing and book sales.

I need to add at least 3 more streams of income over the next five years to reach my personal goal of having 7 streams of income.

The most likely source will be investing in side business that can generate income without my day to day involvement.

So, I have just doubled the key metrics I am tracking to measure the success of my efforts.

Over the next few years I will monitor the results to see if I need to make more course corrections to get me to the end goal of successfully having executed my second 5-year plan.

Stay tuned! It’s going to be even more of an adventure then the last five years!

Business Strategy with Analytics – Aligning a business strategy to drive an organization forward requires a robust analytics solution. Businesses who have good analytics tend to be much more profitable and efficient then ones that do not. DMAIPH has helped dozens of companies in both the U.S. and the Philippines with adding more data analysis in their business strategy. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to find out what we can do to help you align your business strategy with analytics.

Most Analysts Are Spending Only 20% of Their Time on Reporting

In many cases reporting is either something that is set and stone and just needs to be filled or there is a time crunch forcing quick and dirty reporting.

Little time is devoted to using the data for storytelling, maximizing data visualization and really providing the audience exactly what its needs.

% Finding Analyzing Reporting
10 12% 6% 33%
20 14% 10% 39%
30 20% 31% 24%
40 6% 14% 2%
50 31% 16% 2%
60 14% 18% 0
70 0% 0% 0
80 0% 2% 0
90 0% 0 0
100 0% 0 0
       

Ideally, at least a third of the time should be spent post data gathering and analysis to really give the end user of the data the things they need for intelligent decision-making.

A full one-third only spend 10% of their time on reporting, which to me means that there is a lot of the waste in their analytics process.

If you take a full 40 hour week to complete a high priority, high value report but only have Friday afternoon to boil down your finding into a report, it is highly unlikely that your report will fully capture the fruits of your labor.

However, if the time frame is even shorter… you have to do all this in one day, you are just getting to the reporting phase at around 3:30pm.

You have less than an hour and a half to summarize you methods and boil your findings into a few points.

Making sure you craft a compelling story to really influence decision-making based on intelligent data analysis is likely impossible.

Data is based on a survey I sent to 3,000 of my LinkedIn connections who are either analysts or work closely with data and analysis.

Analytics Survey – DMAIPH conducts quarterly analytics surveys to collect data on current trends in analytics. We specialize in surveys that assess analytics culture and measuring how aligned an organization is to using data and analytics  in its decision-making. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to find out more about how DMAIPH can conduct surveys to help you assess the analytics culture in your business.

 

 

Things Data-Driven Cultures Do

Data-Driven Cultures Do These Things:

  1. They embrace Big Data. They aren’t afraid of it. They relish the addition of new data sources and actively look for more.
  2. Managers use Evidence-Based Management techniques. Just about every choice comes based on data analysis.
  3. Challenges are addressed with Data. When something happens that was unexpected, the challenge is met with a data centric approach.
  4. The right data is being used. A lot of work goes into validating data and keeping it clean and fresh. The concept of having a data lake that supports multiple parts of the business is in place.
  5. The have the right analytics talent. Analysts are empowered to go out and discover not just current challenges, but look for potential ones as well.
  6. The know how to communicate. The sharing of information is done to benefit everyone. You won’t see lots of data trapped in silos. Data has no one true owner.
  7. They take action based on their data and analysis. You don’t see a lot of useless reports that kills a small forest or clog up an inbox with massive files. They keep it smart and simple.

Like most of the blog posts in this series, I took inspiration from Bernard Marr when I came up with this list, adding my own analytics spin.

Data-Driven cultures are a lot harder to find then they should be. In this day and age, every company should have a strategy on how to use data to drive more intelligent decisions, but they don’t .

Success eludes many companies because they don’t have the 7 qualities listed above in place. If you were to ask what they look like it would be something akin to this:

  • Top management is afraid of data. Senior leaders don’t even know how to use MS Excel. There is no analytics champion in the organization to spearhead data projects.
  • Decisions are made based on what worked in the past, relying on experience and gut feel. There is little evidence used to go in any certain direction.
  • When things don’t work out, data and analysts take the blame. You will hear a lot of “why didn’t you tell me” and “I didn’t see it coming” excuses.
  • What data is being used is old, dirty, incomplete, full of errors and doesn’t tell the whole story. Reports are basically useless and just produced to look at what people generally already know. They look for what’s there, oblivious to what’s not.
  • They don’t not share data. They hoard it. They don’t trust anyone else with access to it. The data is stored in unconnected storage places. There is no common understanding how to use data.
  • They fail a lot. Success generally happens by hard work as much as luck. It’s impossible to know for sure what caused what to happen.

It’s not easy to take a company that has little or no data-driven decision-making and turn it into an Intelligent Company, but it can be done. I have done it. I have guided transitions from the stone age to the information age. Let me show you how.

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The Philippines is at the center of the action when it comes to solutions to the global need for analytics. Blessed with a solid foundation of young, educated and English speaking workforce, companies around the world are look for Filipino analytics talent to fill analytics positions.

DMAIPH specializes in arming the Data-Driven Leader with the tools and techniques they need to build and empower an analytics centric organization. Analytics leadership requires a mastery of not just analytics skill, but also of nurturing an analytics culture. We have guided thousands of Filipino professionals to become better analytics leaders. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to discuss a uniquely tailored strategy to ensure you are the top of your game when it comes to Analytics Leadership.

Conversation About the Reporting Mess

The other day I was hanging out with some friends who work for a company I used to work for and they were talking about challenges they were having with some reports. As I listened, images started filling my mind of the challenges so many companies face. Not having a good data strategy within a business is a killer to both productivity and morale, opens up a company to extra risk and blinds people to opportunities.

The first problem I suggested they tackle is validating their current Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They need to analyze what is currently being reported to find out what is not useful to the business in making educated decisions.

The second problem is that the people who “own” the data don’t like sharing.  The place where I’d start with this challenges is mapping out the data flow. It would be really powerful to illustrate the different touch points within the flow and most importantly where things get stuck. Then it’s a matter of explaining the big picture to those who might be causing slowdowns.

The third problem is that everyone is too busy to sit down and figure out how to fix things. To solve this challenge, we will need to get everyone on the same page and agree to a common data strategy. This will not be a one and done meeting, but a series of conversations.

So to solve this, my friends need to start with asking questions about what do people really need. In many cases I would expect the answer is no. This is where knowing the architecture comes in handy, so you know where the data lives that is currently missing. After this it’s a matter of storytelling and influencing the “owners” of the data to understand how access to key data would generate more powerful KPIs which would allow everyone to get on the same page.

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It sounds pretty easy and it should be. The ultimate challenge is really getting people to all agree on how to use the data. In some cases, it might take senior management support to get everyone to play nice. And my friends will need data to support their argument on how thing can be better and put some numbers behind their vision of a stronger data-driven culture.

This is where I come in. When inside politics and no one has time to lead the charge, an outside consultant might be the best solution. An expert in not just identifying the challenges and sharing findings, but someone who can actually help facilitate cultural change. People who are equally skilled in both the technical world of analytics and the social world of team building are pretty rare birds.

If you are in a situation like my friends, then I’m ready to help you like I helped them.

Analytics Consulting – DMAIPH specializes in a variety of analytics consulting solutions designed to empower analysts, managers and leaders with the tools needed for more data-driven decision-making. We have helped dozens of companies get more analytics in their business. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can tailor an analytics solution made just for your unique requirements.

DMAIPH’s Typical Client Profile

I publish and share a lot of content about helping businesses get a better handle on their analytics in order to build a culture of data-driven decision-making. With so many businesses of various shapes and sizes looking to get more out of their data, I get asked a lot what kinds of businesses do we specialize in helping.

In general, I think we can help just about any business with its data analytics, with using data for business decision-making and in building an analytics centric culture.

That said, success often will hinge on a couple of factors.

  1. How is the data acquired and stored? The more structured the data management the easier.
  2. How serious is top level management about using data to make decisions?
  3. Is there a person or a team who really get the theory of how to optimize a business using data?

If all of those are true, it’s a green light for us no matter what the size or type of business.

If 1-2 are true, it is still possible, but we will have to make sure we keep expectation tied to reality.

If none of factors are in place, then I will probably decline the consulting gig. You can save people who don’t really want to save themselves.

Our business plan is to offer analytics solutions in the things we are best at, (1) talking about analytics, (2) consulting on using data in a business strategy and (3) providing data and/or analytics focused, hybrid staffing solutions.

The 3 kinds of businesses we specialize in helping by offering these solutions are

  1. Ready to expand – companies who are about to kick off a period of significant growth in their operations and need data analytics and/or more staff to be successful.
  2. Ready to revitalize – companies who have hit a rough patch and need to better understand where things went wrong and need a road map on how to get back on track.
  3. Ready to launch – start up companies who need to refine their initial business plan based on solid data analysis and/or need staffing solutions to get things rolling.

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So although I feel we can help just about any business when it comes to analytics, these are the 3 types of service we offer to our target market. I will detail more about how we go about helping businesses and tell you a story about a company we have helped in the next few blog posts.

Analytics Consulting – As a founding member of Gloabl Chamber Manila, DMAIPH specializes in a variety of analytics consulting solutions designed to empower analysts, managers and leaders with the tools needed for more data-driven decision-making. We have helped dozens of companies get more analytics in their business. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can tailor an analytics solution made just for your unique requirements.

Last To Know? Good Leaders Like To Be The First To Know

I learned at an early stage in my career, that’s its best to tell your boss early when you have bad news.

Most people hate to be the last to know, and that feeling is magnified when it comes to someone who is responsible for making a lot of decisions.

Some think that its better to not share things with the boss that might distract them. Maybe they are too busy and you think it is just better to not interrupt them.  Maybe you are too busy and you just forget.

However, none of this is what any boss wants.

Being surprised is never a good thing when it comes to running a business. Trying to balance the budget, execute a strategic plan or deciding where to put time and energy is hindered when bad news pops up last minute.

You can find countless business experts and great leaders saying its good to get bad news early.

I bet you can’t even find one credible source that says its better to get bad news late.

And this just doesn’t go for bad news. It’s really any news that can impact the business in a significant way. And this is especially true when it come to news impacting the budget.

Having a good reporting process or regular staff meetings helps.

Always remember, without the latest and most up to date data, making good decisions is impossible.

So do yourself, your boss and your company a big favor and give them the bad news early.

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Analysts Are The Guardians Of The Truth

Every once in awhile I hear a story about someone misusing data and it makes me want to turn into the Hulk.

Manipulating data to advance a political gain happens all the time.

Fox News is a master at it. Most politicians bend and twist data like a pretzel just so it will make them look good and their opponents look bad.

I always think of Mark Twain’s famous quote, “there are lies, damn lies and statistics”.

In today’s age is expected form politicians now. When its election time we know most of what we hear is not the whole story and we just accept it.

This also happens a lot outside of politics. It happens in big business. When business people manipulate data to mislead people. Marketing and Sales people are constantly tempted and often even incentiveized to twist the truth too.

But what makes me the maddest. What drives me to Hulk levels of rage. Is when someone does it just because they dont want to face the truth. When they get data, run some analysis, see results, dont like the results they see and then they change the data.

To an analyst like me, thats just flat out unacceptable. Analysts have to be the guardians of truth, using data as their shield and their convictions as their sword.

We know marketers lie. We know politicians tell damn lies. But when people we know and work with manipulate statistics to further short sighted and selfish goals, we have to draw a line.

So keep hope alive and stand up and say, no. Dont use my data and my analysis to build a web of lies. If you do, you are going to have to deal with the Hulk!

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I Need Team Member Engagement Metrics, But Which Ones?

I love this topic because it brings to of my favorite things together; analytics and learning development theory. Knowing something about why people behave the way they do and knowing the metrics to measure this is a central core of me.

However, getting a handle on employee engagement is a challenge.

A recent Harvard Business Review article pointed out, “Much has been studied about the impact of employee engagement on company performance, and there is general agreement that increased engagement drives results: Gallup, for example, suggests a 20% or better boost to productivity and profitability for companies with high engagement. Such companies, however, may be few and far between: Gallup also reports that only 30% of American workers, and 13% of global workers, are engaged in their jobs.”

That means that even on the best team, engagement is hard to keep at a high level.

I have seen many employee engagement surveys and assessments…  Gallup has their 12 questions about employee engagement, I’ve used Strengthfinders and the Pace Color Pallet just to name a few.

They all help.

In fact, in most cases anything you do to measure employee engagement can’t hurt.

But coming up with standard you can use in your organization takes time.

To help, here are some additional engagement metrics I am asking my leadership team to track to help us determine where we can put more effort to improve employee engagement.

  1. Putting In More than Required. By looking at time spent logged in and overtime hours we can get a sense of how much the team member like to maximize their ability to be part of the business.
  2. Showing Up. By reviewing use of vacation leave and sick days and matching that with schedule adherence, you can get a sense of if they really want to be at work.
  3. Who are your High Achievers? If you have team members who score high in both quality and quantity then they have found a way to balance the workload. Doing one well but sacrificing the other shows lack of engagement.
  4. Getting Time with the Boss. Looking at % of time spent 1 on 1 with senior leaders can also be a key indicator of engagement. Even if a lot of time is spent on coaching, the interaction with more senior people will impact engagement.
  5. Taking Time for Training. Looking at the % of time spent on training can also help you spot engaged employees. Internal, external, or refresher training all help in engagement.
  6. Team Member Referrals. Its unlikely people will refer friends to work for your company if they are not engaged. Some incentive programs can blur this line, but it is still useful to look at this data.
  7. Are They Getting Recognition? Generally those recognized by customers, superiors and/or peers tend to be more engaged then those who don’t.

There is no perfect employee engagement model and no perfect way to measure the success of your model.

The best any of us can do is try. Try new things and measure them. Look at historical data. Compare employee scores.

If you need help coming up with you own model of employee engagement and how to measure your success, DMAI can help you.

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Analytics Leadership – DMAIPH specializes in arming the Data-Driven Leader with the tools and techniques they need to build and empower an analytics centric organization. Analytics leadership requires a mastery of not just analytics skill, but also of nurturing an analytics culture. We have guided thousands of Filipino professionals to become better analytics leaders. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to discuss a uniquely tailored strategy to ensure you are the top of your game when it comes to Analytics Leadership.

Reinforcing Positive Behavior By Influencing Team Members

When you work with DMAIPH, you will be working with people who care because they constantly study, learn and evolve. No one wants to be stuck in a place where every day is the same and you never get a sense of what you are part of.

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Here’s one reason why Going DMAIPH is different!

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=B._F._Skinner#Behaviorism

Been thinking a lot about how to motivate people. Sometimes I think we might have it all wrong.

We get so busy doing things that we forget to say thanks and we avoid saying you can do better.

Per Wikipedia, “Reinforcement, a key concept of behaviorism, is the primary process that shapes and controls behavior, and occurs in two ways, “positive” and “negative”.

Both types of reinforcement strengthen behavior, or increase the probability of a behavior reoccurring; the difference is in whether the reinforcing event is something applied (positive reinforcement) or something removed or avoided (negative reinforcement). Punishment is the application of an aversive stimulus/event (positive punishment or punishment by contingent stimulation) or the removal of a desirable stimulus (negative punishment or punishment by contingent withdrawal).

So I know that is nosebleed inducing for some of you, so let’s break it down.

Say we have a challenge in our business with attendance. So we can try to find ways to reinforce good behavior using positives like perfect attendance rewards or offering additional incentives to come to work like food and allowances. But we also have to find ways to limit the negative behavior through coaching, warnings and potentially termination.

If you dont have a clearly defined model of rewarding both positive and negative behavior then team members will get lost and generally gravitate towards negative behavior. Having a clear and consistent attendance policy that is upheld from top to the bottom in an organization will give you that balance of behavior.

DMAIPH specializes in helping businesses in both the U.S. and the Philippines optimize processes and procedures including how to positively influence team member behavior.

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Analytics Leadership – DMAIPH specializes in arming the Data-Driven Leader with the tools and techniques they need to build and empower an analytics centric organization. Analytics leadership requires a mastery of not just analytics skill, but also of nurturing an analytics culture. We have guided thousands of Filipino professionals to become better analytics leaders. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to discuss a uniquely tailored strategy to ensure you are the top of your game when it comes to Analytics Leadership.