Put an End to Data Fatigue (1,274 words)
By Gina Valentino
Are you working harder than your database?
Perform this quick self-check:
- You're tired of running analysis.
- You're tired of linking spreadsheets.
- You're tired of marketing data but not matching merchandising data or financial data.
- You're tired.
If you've checked "yes" to any of the observations in our self-check, you're working much harder than your database.
Perhaps you don't mind. But try to imagine a world where the database works for you, providing timely and relevant information—not just data. You don't need Steven Spielberg or George Lucas for this; just a few simple changes and consistent metrics (a.k.a. ordinary but meaningful bits of information) and your database will be a workhorse. Here are five strategies to get you started.
Reduce the Number of Reports
Information overload is the beginning of analysis paralysis. More importantly, the more raw data you have, the more interpretations you'll have. So you need to reduce the number of reports you submit each reporting period.
A scenario you've probably experienced: A meeting room full of co-workers reviewing the same report will come up with an equal number of opinions about what the data exhibits. Take the leadership role and determine what summary reports are most beneficial to your organization. Omit the indiscriminate pages of minutiae and choose three reports that summarize performance particular to your area of responsibility. Since data are abundant, carefully selecting a few key performance indicators provides others in your organization with a clear understanding of the business.
If you're in charge of the customer file, you may want to show the overall health of the file—new customers, multi buyers, gross demand per customer, conversion and retention rates. If merchandising is part of your job, show inventory position, margin and net sales. The easiest way to decide what summary reports are important to your organization is to ascertain what key issues frequently are discussed in meetings. Determine what information would help the greatest number of people and keep everyone focused. Provide the same summary reports every reporting period and make comparisons to last year's budget, plan and/or forecast. Management would rather spend more time reviewing the information than trying to decipher a new format.