Turn Analysis Into Action: 3 Tips

June 1, 2013
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Today’s analytics tools offer deeper insights into your data than ever before. But if you were to take an objective look at your reports, how many of them actually drive action? How often do you spend time looking at your analytics and have the following thoughts:

Today’s analytics tools offer deeper insights into your data than ever before. But if you were to take an objective look at your reports, how many of them actually drive action? How often do you spend time looking at your analytics and have the following thoughts:

  • “So, what am I supposed to do with this?”
  • “Ok, our KPIs are up, but how much of it is because of things we did?”
  • “Sometimes we’re above target and sometimes we’re below target … at what point should I start paying attention?”

If you find that you are asking yourself these questions, then you are probably not realizing a return on investment from your analytics. The whole point of having better analytics is to give you, your department and your company the tools to be successful. If your analytics don’t directly support you in taking action, then the entire investment may be wasted.

While organizations are very keen to invest in the latest technologies, they often invest little to no effort in ensuring that the analytics trigger the right actions. This is often the weakest link in the analytics chain.

Analytics BI
These are some basic tips that your organization can use to turn your analytics into action.

Tip 1: Find the critical few metrics that matter
Many new adopters of analytics are tempted to show all of the data and metrics, assuming that more information means more power. But this approach is often counter-productive, because different people in the organizations focus on different things … instead of everyone pushing towards a common goal.

In Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Verne Harnish describes the top metrics as “the critical few” … and he means it. He encourages organizations to find their one, two or three metrics that show whether things are going well or not. For organizations with a wide suite of performance metrics, some consideration could be given to building an aggregate measure, just like a GPA score for a student. 

Tip 2: Assign responsibility to each metric … take names
The expression “when everyone is in charge, nobody is in charge” rings true here. When metrics are reported, and it’s unclear who is responsible for taking action, more often than not people will assume that someone else is taking care of it.

The simple practice of designating individual responsibility to each metric can create drastic change in performance. Once the “metric owner” has accepted this responsibility, their name is written next to their metric in the reports. That individual now feels a personal responsibility to make sure the metric looks good, and will start taking action to make it happen.

There will be situations where the metric owner doesn’t have all of the authority and resources to drive the metric, but they can at least report on the factors that are most affecting performance.

Tip 3: Walk the talk … keep score and show that it counts
Another common reason why companies don’t realize a return on investment on their analytics is that they don’t build in their metrics into their daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly dialogue.

By focusing on a few critical measures (and making sure they are the right ones), leaders should see the review of the analytics as something that helps them, rather than another new task to squeeze into the day. During these reviews the main questions are:

  • How are we doing?
  • Why?
  • Who needs to do what to achieve our performance targets?

This isn’t about finger-pointing … it’s about having a common score card, with specific people in charge of the few key metrics, and empowering them to take the right actions that help the organization as a whole succeed. These very basic tips can go a long way towards increasing the value of your analytics.

If you have stories about how you turned analysis into action, please share them.