Why do Businesses struggle to SEE and obtain the right MEASURES so they can MANAGE effectively?

We all accept, “what you can’t see or measure, you can’t manage”. So why in this new world of digitisation and data are we still struggling to provide our managers with meaningful Performance Measures. We should be able to provide Business Managers Evidence through Business Intelligence (BI) solutions that not only provide core Performance Measure insights but also provide the ability to answer the “why” through interactive analytics capability. Yet businesses struggle to provide these solutions. The projects are not structured as simply as they could be.

I would like to share my opinions on the common reasons I see for Solution Teams not achieving this seemingly simple objective. We must do better.

Defining the Requirements - Customers can describe their objective but not necessarily the solution requirements (nor should we expect them to):

  • Starting with a clean sheet of paper and a cast of many in meetings is not the answer

  • We need to have great Senior Business Analysis (BA) skills on the team that bring Operational, Commercial and Technical consideration. This along with a small business representation (i.e. one or two suitable people) will form the basis of establishing a suitable version 1 scope

  • Version 1 then acts as a great reference point to expand from in terms of obtaining further requirements. This will have way more success than a cast of many stakeholders starting with blank sheet of paper

  • Using the strong BA skills, we need to be thinking the “80/20” rule. Along with determining what are the important MEASURES and MEASURE BY’s, the design needs to enable the manager to identify 20% (minority areas) that are making the 80% (majority areas) impacts

Making the engagement Easy and Less time demanding – Customers lack time, they are focused on many things and even if they have good technical resources (internal or external), time is still needed to make sure things are getting owned, resources are reliable and business outcome is still the focus:

  • We need to be Outcome focused, take full ownership and be self-managed (and even manage others that are dependencies)

  • We need to adopt a Culture of Ownership and Outcome focus. We are not there to complete tasks but instead the outcome

Design - 'Less is More' Visualisations - You have too much data to Visualise and communication but still can’t see. Just like a voice communication where too many words can cloud the message, Customers may have loads of data and reports but lack clear sharp aggregated insight. The big pots of gold must be identified easily:

  • We must design the analytic solution with lean and smart aggregated information that then drills through to detail the “Why” questions

Data Availability - The data that is needed, could be spread over multiple data sources and rigid IT procedures can make obtaining such data (e.g. through ETL - an Extract, Transform and Load into Data Warehouse project) a long and complex project

  • We need to be commercially astute and provide alternative designs to Customers so data is structured and available for Visualisation layers if possible and where practical without the lengthy ETL projects

ROI and Rapid Solution Delivery – Rather than focus on choosing BI platforms that are super rich in every piece of functionality that rarely get used but heavy and complex, look to choose a platform that is lean and very fast to develop in and does 90% of what Customer will ever need. Apply the 80/20 rule in platform choice also:

  • We must choose the right platform solution partner that is skilled in BI, and will provide quality and fast effective results

  • We must choose the right solution provider that addresses all the points mentioned in this document and makes the project easy

Making big commitments and Managing Risk – Customers are rightly nervous, they often feel nervous about making a big commitment. Customers need to make an initial smaller commitment, confirm their own business case, try out the platform and solution providers on a small scale before scaling with confidence:

  • Find platform providers and solutions provider that understand that Trust is earned and are prepared for a low entry point engagement that then scales with established trust. This addresses Cultural fit of the partners you work with

Please feel comfortable to share your challenges with me. My e-mail is:

Stuart Popplewell

4GM Managing Director


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