Working with a relatively new client recently, I was very impressed with the data that was available, but bemused by the almost total absence of productive use that was made of it.

    It became obvious pretty quickly that most of it was produced by rote, and there was no real thought given to the costs of producing the data, how it would be used, and the value that it would add, it was just done, because it had always been done, the original reasons for collating the data lost.

    The exception was a suite of reports provided to the MD and executive team that went into minute detail, and took several people 2 weeks to produce each month, and created great angst because it provided a platform for allocation of blame, and caused great focus on the month gone, with little or no regard to what may happen in the future.

    To assist making a change, we went through a process of rating the data on 4 simple parameters:

  1. Are we collecting data that will be used to answer questions that are worth asking?
  2. Does the data assist us to look forward, or is it just about yesterday?
  3. Do the individual pieces of data contribute to developing the larger picture of what is happening internally, and externally that we should know about, and what gaps are there? 
  4. Is the data just quantitative, or is there a qualitative component that is adding to the story?
  5. This simple list created some vigorous discussion, both about the relevance of the list itself, and the scores given to the data collected, but the outcome is a much smaller, user friendly suite, tailored to the needs of different functional management, that takes much less effort to assemble, enables intelligent review of performance, and is the basis of planning and decision making.