No More ‘Guestimates’ – How To Get Real Data And Use It Properly

No More ‘Guestimates’ – How To Get Real Data And Use It Properly

No More ‘Guestimates’ – How To Get Real Data And Use It Properly

When it comes to data the goal should always be to transform data into information and information into insight. It sounds simple but so few get it right. This article will help you find out how to collect the correct data efficiently and guide you on how you can use it to maximise benefits.

There are so many areas of a business that can and should be measured. A good example is marketing activity. In order to really see the impact of a marketing campaign, every aspect should be monitored. A good marketing agency will tell you this and should be have implemented a measurement and analysis system already if you have employed an agency. What about the less obvious areas of your company that should be analysed?

Have you ever thought about measuring how long each project takes from concept to completion? Have you measured how much the resources for said project really costs your company; how much money you spend on the staffing hours for each process that takes place in order for a project to be completed? Without doing this, how can you know if you are running at a profit?

In order to maximise every aspect of your company you should be measuring and analysing constantly. By doing this you can improve the efficiency of your staff, you can charge a realistic amount to your customers, you can identify ways to increase profits and you can utilise time more effectively.

The first step to measurement and analysis process improvement is to identify which areas need to be analysed. You then need to match up the areas with your company’s objectives. Would you like to increase profits? Would you like to reduce the time it takes for a project to be completed etc.

You then need to establish how you are going to track and store your data. A lot of companies use Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets because it is easily accessible, can be used by most employees in a company and fulfils basic purposes of data collection. There are of course other more specific software options on the market, but for us Excel is a great place to start.

As with all data storage we would always suggest keeping documents filed electronically and backed up on an internet server. This means that all data available is kept up to date and accessible should an unexpected incident occur, for example, fire, theft or hardware damage.

So now you have decided what you want to track, how you want the data to work for your company with your objectives in mind and you know how you want to store your data, you now need to gather the data and set up schedules for collecting your data.

It is important to involve your staff in the collection of data and train them in the processes you have set for data collecting. This way all systems will run to the same standards and follow the same criteria, it also helps give you staff a sense of inclusion which helps greatly.

Once you have collected a set of data you now need to put it to use. Make sure you keep in mind your business objectives and the objectives you set for collecting the data in the first case. It is important to share the report you have generated with the relevant stakeholders, for example a marketing team, the accounts team etc. so that they are aware of the reasons of the data reporting and what the results show.

After each analysis of data you must review your objectives based on the results. You may find that the data has identified areas you previously did not account for, you may also be able to spot trends, weaknesses and areas of opportunity which can be factored in to business objectives.

As well as making sure you measure and analyse data regularly, make sure you also review the processes you have put in place for data collection. Are there areas you can improve to generate data more effectively?

Once you get in to a routine of measurement and analysis processes you will find it easier and easier and it will just become part of your day to day processes.

If the thought of data collecting seems daunting to you, why not give our team a call and we can help you set up your processes and get you on the right track.

Jeunine Crabtree

I have a passion for promoting continual growth and improvement through better understanding of processes. I believe that through process improvement any organisation can take control of their future and reach it’s potential. I have grown my knowledge through working with a variety of clients as well as continual self-development through training.

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  • David Bowler June 10, 2013

    Great article Jayy, and a very good piece of advice.

    I would recommend that to maximise the benefit of data collection, the information is collated into a simple one page report that clearly shows the budget or target for the data (i.e. debtor days) and the actual result achieved in the month. You can even use colour coding to show at a glane where the company is performing above, or below expectations.

    Another point I would make is that there should be clear definitions of how the data should be collected, who is responsible, and how the calculations are performed. This will ensure consistency and allow others to take over in the absence of the usual team member.

    I always suggest to clients that they want no more than 15 pieces of data to be collected. This is because, the more you collect, the harder it is to take action on all the necessary areas. And, most businesses can identify 15 priority areas that, if improved, will automatically afect other areas (i.e. debtor days being reduced will increase working capital/cash).

    Looking forward to the next article!

  • admin June 12, 2013

    Hi David, It sounds like you’ve got a great grasp of what Process Improvement is all about. It’s also about not only who collects the data, but who needs to see the data – thats where companies can make the real difference. Getting the right stakeholders involved is key.

    Hope you like the blog so far, keep checking back for more interesting articles!