In part 1 of our 2 part article reviewing data strategy and introducing the VMSGIA framework (Vision, Mission, Strategy, Goals, Initiatives, Actions), we discussed how the piecemeal assembly of a reporting and analytics infrastructure can hamstring the project team by not giving them a complete vision of the final destination.
Ironically, as soon as I finished writing that article, I jumped on a call with a client to build a report. The client I spoke to before tackling this article has the same piecemeal model!
I'm not ready to retract the conclusions drawn in Part I; because, my consulting team IS most effective when we design reports with a 'final destination' in mind. But there's something to be said for 'quick band-aid fixes'.
This article--complete with 3 Jet Professional Reports--is your path from band-aids to breathing space to formulate a data strategy.
I just need to describe what's going on!
Reporting and analytics at any organization can be broken into one of four categories: describe, diagnose, predict, prescribe. Each category builds on the previous and transitions an organization from manual to increasingly automated processes.
Many organizations investing in reporting feel behind the ball when it comes to describing business processes. If business process efficiency were a ship ... it'd be a leaky one with analysts building reports to patch it.
At Onyx Reporting, we always strive to get our clients AHEAD of the game by getting OUT of the Describe phase and into Diagnose (with drilldown with Jet Enterprise) or even Predictive and Prescriptive phases!
So let's get started.
How to Describe Effectively
Use Comparative metrics to provide Context
Here's YTD Sales - a common KPI. Careful. This number is useless without context.
Here is the updated report with a Current Year to Last Year comparison (Note: I did change the date range because I have a limited data set).
See how much more you can extract by providing TWO metrics side by side instead of just one?
We're not done here! Many clients ask for YTD and YTD LY but they forget to ask for % Change. I don't know about you but 47% decrease sends off more warning bells than just two numbers side by side.
Pro tip: For those of you building dashboards, DON'T JUST SHOW PERCENTAGES! If I told you, you had 47% decrease in sales, you don't have a sense of scale. Going from 2 to 1 widget sold is not as bad as going from 50 million to 25 million widgets. Scale matters!
We're still firmly in the Describe phase.
Your average Jet Reports consultant can build this for you in minutes. Maybe seconds! But the challenge is, with this report, we're no closer to diagnosing WHY sales decreased 50% nor have we addressed "What we're going to do about it".
This is why strategy matters, and why your consultant needs the big picture to understand where you want to go with all this report development!
Let's do the obvious and slap on more features. Let's list out sales by customer.
Pause for a moment. After all that effort, what does this report actual do?
Realize, we're still firmly entrenched in the describe phase. If you had 1,000 or 10,000 clients you're no closer to actionable or automate-able information. Your workflow will still be very manual.
How to actually get AHEAD with Reporting.
Stop building to DESCRIBE and build to PRESCRIBE
What if we changed the scenario. Instead of you and a report developer, it's you and the Director of Sales. He's sat you down and said: "We've got a 47% decrease in sales, what action are you going to take to solve this problem?"
Here's a list of the customers with no activity this year. Let's pull in their email and add them to an auto-generated Mailchimp email campaign. At the very least your salespeople know who to follow up with!
Here's an Item Basket pairing.
In other words customers who purchased item 1896-S also purchased the matching items in column D. In column F you can see how often the items were paired. (Of course we need a more robust data set to realize the value).
Translation: The client who purchased Rapha Randonnee shorts often purchased matching jersey and socks from the same product line. Time to upsell! If they purchased a flashlight without batteries, maybe we should remind them that they need some!
Kick Start your Data Strategy
With one question.
Too many clients approach reporting and analytics from the perspective of "how can I answer ...?"
While these questions are important. Your CxO doesn't care!! If you tell the CxO you had a 43% decrease in sales, the real question is, "What are you going to do about it?"
How are you going to get the information to support and automate that?
See what I did there? ;)
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Jae Wilson is a consultant and BI developer Onyx Reporting.