Key Criteria for Effective Data Driven Decision Making

The need for data driven decision making in business cannot be argued. A common mantra from management is “if we have the facts, then let’s base our decisions on the facts.”

The challenge is knowing when you are seeing real and dependable facts about business performance versus data that may be misleading and jeopardizing good decision making.

What are the three key elements that enable your management team to make accurate data-driven decisions?

Coherent Data:  In today’s marketplace, the availability of data is not the problem. The problem is the overwhelming amounts of data coming from almost unlimited sources.

Businesses have employees in the field armed with hand-held devices, (CRM) systems, social media, research, texting, emails, personal and department spreadsheets, GPS, and commercial data feeds from channel partners. Now machine-driven data is adding volumes of data to the pool as well.

Can anyone make a case against the enormous need for an effective data governance process to preserve a coherent set of data that is consistent throughout the organization, regardless of who is seeing it?

To win in any competitive sport, the entire team must execute the plays from the same play sheet. This is fundamental to business management as well.

In business, the sources and reliability of all data must be evaluated against a prescribed set of governance rules before it can be used for any level of decision-making.

Another aspect of governance involves data formatting and verification of any embedded calculations within the data. This ensures that all calculations are accurate and the data is being consistently presented to all management levels based on their respective needs.

Approved data, consistent formatting, and validation of all embedded calculations is the essence of good data governance and yields a coherent view for all managers.

Speed to the Front Lines:  An organization can have a solid approach to data governance, but fail miserably due to unacceptable time lags in getting useful data into the hands of management.

Managers at every level must have access to the data in seconds, not days if real-time decisions are to be made.

Managers are already burdened with too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Waiting too long for the right data to confirm or discover market realities forces managers to hesitate in making decisions leading to poor outcomes.

Selecting the right technology platform is critical. The right technology platform will not only ensure the data quality and deliver the data to the front lines with speed, but also empowers management with the ability to share intuitive perceptions of current market conditions. This “soft intelligence” can capture management’s comments, photos or videos, and links to emerging issues.

Aligning soft intelligence with core analytical data creates more value and clarity for managers to make informed decisions.

Ease of use:   When the data is governed with a consistent set of principles, resulting in a coherent data set, and the resulting data is delivered with speed, the foundation is set for good data driven decisions. The final factor that is critical for good management output is ease of use for all levels of management.

Managers at every level of the organization must be able to access the data, identify the true causes of market driven problems, determine actions needed, and implement decisions that can be tracked.

If this basic process is burdened with too much complexity and technical hurdles, the system will fail to deliver the intended results.

With the right technology platform, the old standard of pushing data down to local managers becomes obsolete.

Every management level should be armed with the right data that is quickly accessed with operating levers that are easy to use. This enables every manager to focus the right resources in the market and drive the greatest value.

When this process is repeated, a continuous improvement culture is established allowing for accountability and rewards for positive results delivered.

Karl Edmunds

About the Author

Karl Edmunds
Vice President, Salient Management Company

is a nationally recognized business leader and author with more than 20 years of experience working with suppliers, distributors, and retailers in the CPG industry. His focus is aligning technical solutions with sales, marketing, and organizational needs to drive long-term profitable growth.

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