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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Small Business, Big Data

“Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of a freeway.” Geoffrey Moore – Author of Crossing the Chasm & Inside the Tornado.

Without analytics, your company is vulnerable. However, just owning analytics tools isn’t enough. Extracting value from your analytics investment requires sufficient staff, well-defined processes, a clear business strategy, and leadership support.

All the Data We Create Each Day

Think about some of the things you do in your daily life. You get up, you eat, go to work/school, shop, do something for entertainment, bank, go online and do things on social media. Everything you do generates data. That data is captured in countless ways. And then it’s stored in countless places. And analyzed by countless numbers of people. And then used in countless ways by businesses to market, design, advertise, build, sell, and so on.

Every time you check your phone to see if there are any updates on Facebook you generate a lot of data for your phone manufacturer, your service provider and Facebook itself. Everything you like or comment on can be turned into a data point. The time, place and length of your connection all provide useful data. Get the point? It’s endless.

That’s big data.

In general, big data is thought of as all the data businesses capture and store in a database that they can use for business decision-making.

When you think of data collections that have millions and millions of rows of data like big bank transaction data, or traffic data for major cities, or all the statistics captured everyday across professional sports. Way too much for man to analyze without help from technology. That’s all big data.

Every business defines its big data a little differently. There is no one way to look at how best to manage big data because big data is such a living, evolving, never ending flow of information. It’s like lakes of water that are too big to swim across and too deep to dive to the bottom of without help. And no two lakes are alike.

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Small Business Analytics – The field of small business analytics is just starting to blossom as companies are looking for more data-driven decision-making to prosper in the age of Big Data. DMAIPH is at the fore front of providing analytics training, consulting and outsourcing options to small businesses. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to set up a free consultation on how to get more analytics in your small business.

 

 

Current Trends in Small Business Analytics

Analytics as a discipline is constantly evolving. Advances in technology allow what was once expensive and difficult to now be at the fingertips of any business user.  The goal of analytics is “to turn data into information, and information into insight.” -Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of HP

Fiorina, highlighted some of the key steps in analytics. Reporting turns raw data into information that can be consumed by a company, and through analysis you turn information into insights. Taking her comments one important step further, you need to turn insight into action if you want to progress down the path to value with analytics.

Analytics is constantly evolving, so staying current is paramount to success.

Staying current is all about being strategic in time management. I have to stay up to date on current trends in analytics as well as with new analytics applications and technologies. Besides just staying current for my own benefit, I share relevant updates with my colleagues, clients and followers.

Every few months I devote a day to discover what the current trends in analytics are. I do this both to refresh the slides in my presentation and to refresh my mind to see what I may have missed.

The amount of literature out there on analytics continues to blossom at an amazing rate, making it a true challenge to stay well versed on what’s hot and what’s not. I read a new analytics themed book about once a month and I have well over 200 blogs, web sites and social media groups cataloged. So I like to think I’m pretty well versed on what is current.

If I had to pick 5 current trends in small business analytics to talk about it would be:

(1) Picking a Good Business Intelligence Tool,

(2) Mining Public Unstructured Data,

(3) Mapping Your Business Data Environment,

(4) Centralizing Various Data Sources,

(5) Understanding Data Science and Big Data Analytics.

Every time I go to list the top 5 analytics trends, I find that some things change and some stay the same. Ever since I have been writing about analytics, data visualization is near the top. Business dashboards continue to be a big need. Business Intelligence (BI) tools evolve and new ones’ pop up, but Tableau continues to be a market leader.

Small Businesses who want to optimize the use of analytics need to start with finding a good BI tool to help them make sense of their business data. MS Excel is the most common option to get started with.

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Small Business Analytics – The field of small business analytics is just starting to blossom as companies are looking for more data-driven decision-making to prosper in the age of Big Data. DMAIPH is at the fore front of providing analytics training, consulting and outsourcing options to small businesses. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to set up a free consultation on how to get more analytics in your small business.

DMAIPH joins Global Chamber Manila

The other day I had the honor to join the advisory board for the Global Chamber Manila.

http://manila.globalchamber.org/cpages/home

Global Chamber Manila helps members get business done across metro areas!

We are a thriving and collaborating community of CEO’s, executives, and professionals growing business across 500 metropolitan areas. We leverage technology and our collective networks around the world to help member companies grow, reduce risk, be more productive, and succeed faster.

We are the only organization in the world with the mission to grow business from anywhere to anywhere while collaborating with every organization. We help companies, investors and business service providers around the world succeed.

We will be having some awesome events this coming January 16-18 to meet and greet potential members.

To help combat traffic, we have scheduled the launch on 3 different locations at BGC, Makati City and Ortigas Center:

The event is FREE but please RSVP to ensure we can reserve a seat for you. Just click on the link for the locations above. http://manila.globalchamber.org/events

Beverages and light refreshments will be served. See you!

News & Events- DMAIPH is a highly engaged leader, sponsor and participant in analytics events across the U.S. and the Philippines. As an Analytics Champion I write, blog, speak and lecture about analytics in a wide variety of forums. I authored several publications on analytics including my latest book, Putting Your Data to Work. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to learn more about where I will be talking about analytics next.

Can Analytics Help a Sari Sari Store?

I had this interesting conversation earlier about analytics.

I started explaining to the person I was sitting next to what I do and he asked can analytics really help any business?

Of course I said yes.

He asked even a Sari Sari store?

For those of you who don’t know much about Sari Sari stores, let me tell you a bit about them.

By far the most common form of self-employment in the Philippines are small, family operated convenience stores. Called Sari-Sari stores, there are an estimated 1 million Sari Sari stores across the Philippines. Per wikipedia, this counts for an estimated 30% of all retail sales in the Philippines.

Sari-Sari, which is Tagalog for variety, are an important economic and social pieces of just about every Filipino community. Most are privately run, family owned and are operated from the front of the owners house.

Commodities are displayed behind a large mesh screen to both allow customers to see what is available and to prevent shoplifting. The most common goods sold are candy, snacks and other non-perishable food items. Cigarettes and mobile phone cards are also popular items for sale. Household needs like soap, detergent and cleaning supplies are also common. Some stores have small refrigerators to offer cold drinks like soda and beer.

Sari-sari stores generally have higher prices when compared to supermarkets which is a tradeoff for proximity to their customers. It is also common to buy single units of a product versus an entire package as paying more to meet a quick need is valued over planning and budgeting bulk purchase over the long term.

Some Sari Sari stores also offer credit to neighbors. Micro lending of this scale is wide spread and generally done under the rule that if the credit is not repaid, the store owner will report this to the local government officials.

Some Sari Sari stores barter goods and services with farmer, fishermen and other businesses.

Most Sari Sari store proprietors buy their goods at supermarkets then mark up the prices for resale (on the average 20%). In some areas, businessmen make act a middle man offering bulk products to the Sari Sari store.

It is my belief that most Sari Sari stores can benefit from a simple strategic business plan and some very basic analytics.

My understanding is that Sari Sari stores operate on a very tactical level with little long term planning and operate with little market awareness.

If I ever to consult with the owner of a Sari Sari store, my initial approach would be to develop a business strategy plan and build a basic analytics process to gather data and provide a proof of concept.

This approach would be broken into the following steps:

  1. Business Strategy Assessment – How do they conduct business?
  2. Competitive Landscape – Who do they compete with?
  3. Demographic Profile – Who are their customers?
  4. Market Assessment – How much upside is in their market?
  5. Inventory Analysis – How to they optimize inventory?
  6. Facilities Assessment – Are they getting the most of their location?
  7. Risk & Security Assessment – What risks do they face?

I will flesh out each of these steps in upcoming blog posts.

Once I have complied data from these 7 steps, I can develop a business strategy plan unique to the individual Sari Sari store.

After my presentation of the business plan, I can make a determination if they Sari Sari store will enter Phase Two of the plan.

I would work with the proprietor store for a set period of time in a consulting role to determine viability of operations and if they meet our program standards (detailed later in this document).

In addition to offering a consulting solution, through my company, I can also offer additional services including cash management, accounting, marketing, inventory and fulfillment assistance, and other solutions as they arise.

Its my experience that the busiest Sari Sari stores offer something unique. Some might have an ice cream maker, or a special dish they prepare, or some have home baked goods. Regardless, they generally have something that sets them apart from a store that just offers traditional goods.

So, the final piece of my involvement would be cross selling our unique products to Sari Sari stores in need of a unique product to build their business around.

After that consultation, I would expect that three things would happen:

  1. the Sari Sari store proprietor would have a better grasp of a strategic business strategy.
  2. the Sari Sari store would increase profits and
  3. the Sari Sari store would expand its customer base and build up loyalty with existing customers.

So, to get back to the question… how can analytics help a Sari Sari store?

By applying some lessons from the corporate world.

Dr. Data_Analytics in the Philippines

Analytics in the Philippines – 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 was set up to facilitate these solutions and bring the talent and the business together. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can help you take advantage of this unique global opportunity.

 

The 3 Pillars of Small Business Analytics

When I consult with small business owners, there are 3 areas where my guidance generally has the most impact. I call these areas the 3 Pillars of Small Business Analytics.

The first pillar is a Competitive Landscape. I have found that very few small business owners really have a handle on the competition.

A competitive landscape analysis will reveal threats and opportunities that generally are not obvious to a business owner who focuses most of his/her energy on running the business itself.

Some of the data points you can capture and analyze include pricing, location, business size, quality, scope of business, diversity of product offering and of course revenue.  You would be surprised to find how easy it is to gather all this info.

Knowing where your products and services stack up against your competition is a key to prosperity. To achieve this understanding you need to use analytics.

The second pillar is a Demographic Profile. I have also found that very few small business owners really understand the demographics around their business.

A demographic profile analysis will illustrate how closely your customer base mirrors the actual population around your business. In many cases small businesses are not positioning their services correctly based on the opportunity in their market.

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Data to include would be traditional demographic markers like age, race, sex, family status, financial status, economic state, etc. There is a ridiculous amount of data on the internet that can be mined free and easy.

Making sure your business is properly positioned to take advantage of your arket will ensure more long term success. The data is out there; you just need to know how to bring it into your analytics process.

The third pillar is Customer Insights. With the boom in social media, most small businesses have not figured out how to capture and analyze all the information being published and shared about their business.

Customer Insight analysis allows a business owner to stay on top of problems and identify how customers feel about their business quickly.

We all know how quickly things can go viral and having a good tool to capture customer sentiment in social media is generally the most overlooked aspect of running a small business.

Positive and negative reviews, trending items, number of likes, follows and shares, are all items that can be rolled into customer insights. You can combine this with surveys, focus groups and loyalty programs among other things to get a full picture of your business.

If you are a small business owner, decision-maker or analyst then focusing on these analytics pillars will make all the difference in the world.

And the best part, is they are all free and easy to bring into your business.

Small Business Analytics – The field of small business analytics is just starting to blossom as companies are looking for more data-driven decision-making to prosper in the age of Big Data. DMAIPH is at the fore front of providing analytics training, consulting and outsourcing options to small businesses. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to set up a free consultation on how to get more analytics in your small business.

 

 

 

 

How to Build Your Business Strategy

Business strategy is something that comes naturally to me. I’m good at anticipating challenges, at doing research to assess the risk and reward to multiple options and I love to use data to validate or refute initial findings.

Though easy for me, I have found that being successful with business strategy is not as natural for most business owners, senior managers and decision-makers.

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When I set up my first company, it was based on a year of research and lots of networking. When I launched my second business it was based not just on research and networking, but learning from the mistakes made the first time with financial planning and partner relationships. Now on my third business, having taken the best of everything that worked before and finding ways to mitigate the things that went wrong before.

Now, for most business leaders you can’t just hit the rest button every few years, but you should hit the reset button on your initial strategy. Adapt to changes in the market. Glean new insights on cutting edge technology. Stay on top of industry trends.

That’s the first key to business strategy. Understanding that it is a continual process that evolves. Many businesses fail because they don’t change with the times or because leaders just stick with what has always worked. That’s dinosaur thinking.

Any good business strategy has to adopt a continuous process improvement policy, using something Six Sigma or Lean to keep things form getting stale.

A good business strategy also seeks out new technologies that can disrupt both their business and their business marketplace. What was cutting edge and trendy six months ago most likely be as effective six months from now. Good Business intelligence tools that can do cool data visualizations and build business dashboards help us stay ahead of the game. I show a lot of people how to do this using Tableau Public, which is free and easy to learn.

The next key to business strategy is integrating customer insights into everything you do. If you don’t listen to your customers, if you can’t predict what they need, and if you have a strategy that puts profit before customer experience you will probably fail.

It amazes me when I see bad customer service, products that no longer meet customer needs being produced and unimaginative marketing campaigns. In this day and age, with access to our customers at unprecedented levels, there is no excuse for failing to get it right the first time.  We do a lot of surveying and engage using social media to stay connected.

The third key I include in my business strategy planning and consulting is understanding the competitive landscape. Knowing where we stack up in the marketplace, what are our strengths and weaknesses, what is hot and what is not… you need to put as much focus on what is happening outside the business as you need to know what’s happening inside.

Almost everyone I talk with about their competitors share with me one common feeling… I don’t really know what my competitors are doing. In fact a high percentage even struggle to identify who their key competitors are. We are active in industry organizations, online social media groups and attend competitors events to stay up to date.

Business strategy is a lot more than just business intelligence, customer insights, and competitive landscapes, but it is a good start. If you are able to add these to financial models and demographic data, you will have a well-rounded business strategy. And then its just a matter of keeping it fresh, resetting it every so often to make sure you don’t become a dinosaur.

Let me know if I can help. In the past few years I have helped companies of all shapes and sizes refine their business strategy using my keys to success.

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.

Five Things That I Ask My Leadership Team To Do

As our team continues to grow and the type of work continues to diversify, I have been reflecting a lot on the way we approach things. The way we influence those we work with, the words we choose to motivate each other and the commitment we demonstrate to ourselves, each other and our clients all have a huge impact on our success.

Leaders do more than manage. They inspire and empower. They also hold people accountable. Having worked with and for some great leaders over my career, these are the top five things I ask my leadership team to do.

  1. Do The Work. Nothing inspires others more than seeing a person in a position of authority work hard. Putting in the extra effort, making sacrifices and going above on beyond to bet things done. Excelling at what you do is the best way to get others to do the same.
  2. Sharing The Vision. I use the term sound like a broken record a lot… meaning you should share and share and share stories and ideas and dreams that give people a vision of where things are going. In this fractured world, so full of distractions, it’s really not possible overshare your vision.
  3. Carrot And Stick. I use this metaphor a lot to remind my team that we have to be equally well versed in both discipline and praise. That we need to balance being a good cop and a bad cop. Being fair and just, is in the end what all employees want from their leaders.
  4. Don’t just give directions. Explain why things are important. Looks for root causes and not just the symptoms. Take the extra time to write a more comprehensive email, or sit down and explain something a second time, or use visuals to re-enforce why we do what we do.
  5. No excuses. True leaders accept responsibility, hold themselves accountable for failures and offer up solutions to problems. Unsuccessful leaders offer explanations and excuses.

So as we kick into high gear with expansion plans, these are the things I will be doing, sharing, reminding, and educating my team about.

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.

Being A Great Analyst > Attribute #2: Visualize Your Data

Most people learn by seeing something… that’s definitely true when it comes to using data. They not only learn more, but data visualization also a quicker sharing of information and also enhances communication.

Here’s an example. My management team was discussing how to enhance our coaching efforts with the team and since each of my direct reports has a different area of responsibility; production, quality and schedule adherence, they were having trouble agreeing on which analysts needed the most coaching. They each produced reports that were stand alone documents that would be shared via email or dropbox.

So I suggested we build a simple business dashboard. A business dashboard looks something like this:

It’s a simple collection of visuals built on top of a data file.

I created a simple Google docs spreadsheet and shared it. Each of the key performance indicators used to evaluate employee success was given a column and I put each employee a row. I then had each of my directs input the relevant data points and quickly we had a rudimentary business dashboard and I now I have a much more in synch management team.

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Simple analytics solutions like this are at the fingertips of any business. You just need to know when, where, and how best to implement them. Something so simple as a place to share data is so often overlooked by even the most successful businesses.

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.