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Wanna be data-driven? Start with managerial reports

Data-driven company has been a buzzword for nearly two decades. We ourselves use the term a lot because we strongly believe that data is the key to drive any business forward. But what does it really mean to be data-driven?

Jiri Vicherek

Written by
Jiri Vicherek

January 01, 2019

Where do you start? Our experience based on working with hundreds of clients worldwide, both rapidly growing companies and enterprises, is that the one place to start with any digital transition and data innovation is (drumroll) - Managerial reports.

Nothing will tell you how data-driven a company is than looking at it’s managerial reports.. Asking how the reports are being put on tells you a lot about data infrastructure, use of business intelligence apps and state of data automation. If the manager spends more than half an hour on his report, putting data from different systems into Excel spreadsheet, then he is probably wasting his time and your money.

Wonder what a typical managerial meeting looks like in a data-driven company? Do the managers use the same data sets? Do they argue about which numbers are correct or more truthful? If one of them is talking about margin, is it the same margin the other one was referring to?

The Sales Director of Sklizeno, a fresh food retail chain, reported the same problems:

We used to run our ERP on WinShop and then converted data from that system to Excel files. At night, we produced reports for the top management from those inputs so that we could come up with conclusions, compare stores with each other, year on year, by segments, etc. But we had less and less time for that, and the reporting frequency gradually dropped to one six-monthly report.

If your organization is having these issues, do not worry. We are often surprised by how many companies, even the big successful ones with huge IT and in house data analytics team, have a big mess in their data structure and how obvious it is from their management meetings.

So what does good managerial reporting look like?

A single source of truth for all

We love how our partner Looker has put it: you need a single source of truth for all. As CEO of Lékárna.cz, leading Czech e-commerce pharmacy, explained the situation before implementing Keboola:

Each manager had their own set of statistics from which they drew data. This approach lead to a distortion of company-wide figures, since they were not drawn from the same database. There were around 15 interpretations of gross margin floating around simultaneously.”

 Having a single source of truth means no more arguing about the data and more time to discuss on future next steps. You can discuss what worked, what didn’t work and how to make the thing better next time.

“I need data to assess team performance and opinions. Without them I am easily bullshited.” says Lukáš Uhl and Jan Langer agrees on that: “In general, I’ve more fact-based arguments up my sleeve so to speak.”

Data health

You must work with the right, cleaned data. You have to trust it in order to follow it. In order to be confident with your data, you have to be able to verify each single digit and how it came to your report. That means frequent quality data checks.

Automated

Reports shouldn’t take too much time to prepare. This is usually the first thing we do when implementing Keboola - automating the reports. For someone who has been using Excel sheets before it is usually dream come true.

“On a quarterly basis I give important feedback to the stores, and it only takes me about 30 minutes to put together the source materials and information. Before, it took me a whole day.

says Jan Langer. While it is usually very convenient and cheap to hire an assistant to do this repetitive work, it is usually also risky.

Detailed if needed

You have to be able to look into detail. This is the bottleneck of lots of the black-box softwares - they give you their take on your data, their KPIs and you have no way how to understand the logic behind them. Fantastic example is Google Analytics - for the small company it is beneficial to follow the Google standard logic on what the visit or visitor is defined but once you grow it becomes inconvenient to say the least.

Used

For any report to be effective it must be used. As Lukáš Uhl, ex-Chief Logistic Officer at DeliveryHero puts it:

Any report is meaningless unless there is a process connected to it.

That is also why it is hard and essential to come up with the right metrics and KPIs. You only achieve the right outcome by measuring, reporting and acting on the right KPIs.

To conclude - being data-driven does not mean having an algorithm running your company - it means using the data properly, leveraging it to making better decisions and building better services. And we feel proud that Keboola has always been the right partner in doing so. If you want to learn more about Keboola, feel free to send us a message at contactus@keboola.com.

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