LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
running a smarter business + simple steps to start using analytics
ryan wade, software solutions manager
Small business managers wear many hats throughout the day: sales, operations, service, and support. Often, the days feel like a blur just keeping up with daily tasks. You know there is a better way, but it can feel overwhelming to add one more “thing” to the list. Spending time looking at data and ways to improve feels intimidating. What can analytics tell you that you don’t know by working in the business?
If this sounds like you, then this blog will provide a practical overview of data analytics, the benefits, and simple steps to help you get started.
What is analytics?
Asking what is “data analytics” is like asking what is “sales.” It is a broad term. A simple way to think of data analytics is the practice of gaining knowledge from business information at the time when you need it. Reports are reactive, meaning they look in the past, where analytics are more real-time to help make informed decisions. Large companies have always used analytics to run their business, but today’s technology makes it more cost-effective for small businesses to implement best practices.
So when is the right time?
The truth is that not every business is ready. Becoming a more efficient, profitable or fast-growth company will require change, and change is difficult. Over time, implementing this may cause you to change processes, employees or customers, so at its core, the leadership needs to be committed to change. But, with change comes rewards of working smarter.
Signs you are ready to get started:
- You have standard processes in place and implemented systems
- You use basic reports today but would value real-time data
- Your systems “have the data”, but you need to combine it with spreadsheets to gain any real insight
- You have a goal for the company that will help justify your efforts (growth, revenue, profitability, compliance, etc.)
How do I get started?
Once you’ve determined you are ready, there are simple steps you can take prior to engaging consultants like Lutz Tech.
Define your goal
- As with any project, you need to determine the return on investment and the overall goal. Be specific with what you are looking to accomplish, such as, we want to know the true profitability of our client contracts.
Determine your key indicators
- Starting with the end in mind can help simplify the process. Identify no more than three high level or low “indicators” that helps you understand the real-time health of your business or department.
- Think of this as your wish list of what you want to know about the business. Once you have your list, prioritize them in terms of the value they bring you versus the complexity to get the information.
Keep it simple
- With the list you’ve created, choose one or two indicators that are straightforward and add value immediately. The goal is to use these indicators as experiments that help you learn how to best implement analytics.
Map the inputs and process
- Once you’ve determined what you are trying to learn, you need to determine what data you need to get to the result. This information may not come from the same system, and that is ok. It may not be easy to get, and that is ok too. The purpose of this exercise is to determine what needs to change in order to get the information you need to run a smarter business. The change will come next.
Create reports that demonstrate the vision
- For those that are starting from scratch, use spreadsheets to combine data from systems and flush out what you are looking to create.
- Measure the value that the information would bring the business if you were able to efficiently implement a process to get the information real-time.
- Focus on the information that adds enough value to implement changes to processes or systems.
- For those that are already using spreadsheets to combine data from different systems and looking for a more scalable solution, Microsoft Power BI is a natural next step. Power BI’s platform is free to try.
In summary, analytics can serve as a critical tool in helping your business grow and become more profitable. Questions? Contact us today!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RYAN WADE + TECH DIRECTOR
Ryan Wade is a Tech Director at Lutz with over ten years of relevant experience. His primary responsibility is to manage the software solutions practice, including team administration and client relationship management. Ryan is also the lead on Lutz's online client portal, Threadworks.
AREAS OF FOCUS
- Software Consulting
- Client Relationships
- Professional Services Industry
- Real-Estate Industry
- Banking Industry
- BSBA, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
- MBA, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
- Business Ethics Alliance, Committee Member
- Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Audit Chair
- Nebraska Tech Collaborative Internship Committee Chair
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