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Data is useless…


…if you don’t know how to use it.

You can use analytics in a myriad of ways to optimize business and transformation strategies. For example - You can produce data on the number of STP volumes, cycle times, process efficiencies, system uptime, employee productivity, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, internal and external SLAs, operational friction…the list goes on.

However all of this is rendered useless if the data isn’t being used, or intended consumers of the data don’t know how to use it effectively.

The crux of this issue is often down to the lack of strategic alignment and controls between the various business units who consume the analytics and personnel involved in creating the corresponding dashboards.

To avoid falling into the trap of just building reports and dashboards willy-nilly, businesses should put a framework in place that will ensure any reporting or dashboard build requests provide a strong ROI in value and usage.


Bad analytics is like giving your leaders a screwdriver and telling them to hammer in some nails.

Here are some examples of how to set up these controls:

What are you trying to achieve?

The first step in any data project is to define what your goal is. You can have all the data in the world, but if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, then it will be useless.

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What is your ultimate goal?
  • How does this drive results or help the business?
  • How does this fit into or align with the company’s strategic objectives?
  • What does success look like?

What are you already doing?

  • What are you already doing well?
  • What are you doing that doesn’t work?
  • What are you doing that could be improved?
  • What are you not doing that you should be?
  • What are you doing that you should stop?

What metrics will help you understand if you’re getting there?

If you don’t have any idea what data you need to collect, start by clearly defining the problem you’re solving. But note that framing the problem correctly is crucial. The following combination of questions will help you get started:

  • What can be changed?
  • What matters most?
  • Can we measure it?

How often should you be gathering this information?

The frequency at which you gather data depends on what type of data it is, what you’re trying to achieve, and how long it takes to act on the data. You’ll want to collect more frequently if your goals are short-term, or if your project has time-sensitive elements.

Additionally, any dashboard or metrics need to be tied to a habit. It could be the daily huddle within a team, the quarterly planning meeting or monthly 1:1s…the key to ensure sustainability is to match the report with a touchpoint - again, insight is pointless if your people aren’t meeting to act upon it.

What new actions can you take based on the data that you’ve collected?

How will you make use of the data that you’ve collected? How can you apply your newfound insights to improve your product or service?

Now is the time for action. What are some of the actions most likely to help you achieve your goals? What do you need to do next based on what it is that you have learned from the data? How has the data that you have collected helped you, and how can it best be leveraged in order to help others succeed as well? The answers to these questions will provide a guidepost for how you should proceed, both now and in the future, and the communication framework you need to entrench to ensure insight is actioned.

Don’t get bogged down in the detail, focus on what you need to know to move forward

Keep in mind that data can overwhelm your people if you let it. You don’t need to create reporting and dashboards for every single data point in your organization - the effort to create and maintain that would be ridiculous. Instead, focus on the metrics that will move the needle for your business, and look for trends over time. What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) that align with your overarching strategy? It’s important to remember that metrics, reporting, and dashboards don’t always tell the whole story, and should be used to inform decision making and action - not dictate it.

Data is only useful when it’s used properly.