Almost every company I work with seems to get caught up in the bells and whistles of their new or upgraded software; however, when push comes to shove, the bells and whistles mean nothing if they cannot perform the basics. One of those basics is to be able to extract the right data at the right time from their system in a meaningful format for decision-making.

How many executives are able to extract meaningful data to make informed decisions with minimal time investment – without hiring a data ninja? Only a hand full. On the other hand, how many executives need to be able to make informed decisions rapidly in today’s face-paced environment? 100%! Thus, I thought a few keys to success were in order:

  1. Data integrity – before we move on, it’s best to make sure any data used in critical decision-making isn’t “garbage in-garbage out”. I’ve yet to come across a company that didn’t need to focus some efforts in this area.
  2. Data extraction tools – query tools, report writers, business intelligence tools, etc. Worst case, you’re likely to have Sequel or something like that which requires a stronger programming background to utilize. Simpler is better; however, a simple front end usually requires a more complex back-end. Invest time to find the “right” one(s).
  3. File tables – It shouldn’t be an Easter egg hunt to find the right files. Put together a map/ cross-reference of your files.
  4. Business sense – You can hire a data ninja, extract the perfect data and yet still have lousy decision-making abilities if you don’t add a business element into the mix. Does the data make sense? You’d be surprised how often I’ve received reports which were millions of dollars off. No one gave it a logic check.
  5. Less is more – This entire process is far from a no-brainer to set up successfully. Why waste time on developing 25 reports when 5 metrics tell you everything you need to run the business. Instead, focus your high-skilled IT / business, hard-to-find resources.