As technology affords companies greater access to data, reason tells us that the potential to do greater and greater things exists. When used effectively, access to figures, flash reports, and departmental statistics can enhance a companies’ ability to fluidly make change, tied to their objectives. However, open the mail bag (or the E-Mail Inbox) of front line managers and what you’ ll often find is a jumble of unrelated reports and memos, freshly launched off the desk (or E-Mail Outbox) of someone in the Corporate Office. More and more date is becoming available, more data is circulating, and more opportunities are lost when valuable pre-planning and setting of expectations aren’t forerunners of hitting the Send key. Here are a few thoughts to prevent data meltdown in your business:
- I Exist, Therefore I Am: ...May hold true for people, but not for statistics. The merchandising group may find that more Calvin Klein size 6 dresses are being sold in a New York location, while the Illinois unit hasn’t moved any. Unless you are prepared to act on the inferences provided by the information your IT group can generate, the answer is a resounding “SoWhat?”
- Consider the ultimate objective: What is the overall goal attached to sending data? Are you sending information, or are you expecting the recipient to take specific action? If so, clearly state what you need and by when.
- Timing Is Everything: A master calendar of who is sending what from the Corporate Office to field locations seems elementary. However, the number of functional departments and the overlap of information is staggering. Look for ways to plan data release to afford the greatest impact and action possible.
- Macro or Micro, There Is a Difference: The more you tie data to the broader business issues of the company, the more managers will be able to recognize the impact of specific group and individual productivity to the overall performance of the business.
- Measure What Is Important: Ask end-users what data would make their jobs easier, and be relevant to their performance. Create a partnership to produce information clearly needed and the results will be evident in improved understanding and output.
Dazzle, Don’ t Drown: If it takes more than 10 minutes to read and evaluate, it probably isn’ t worth it. Specific, actionable information that can be gathered in minutes can make or break sales performance in a given time frame. Weighty binders with impressive spreadsheets may impress the developer, but loses the driver every time.