The 5 most common ways executives are wasting money

September 12, 2016

What does this blog post cover?

  1. The five most common ways executives are bleeding company money.
  2. Which BI functionalities can plug these holes.
  3. Best practices for an effective analytics strategy.

If you’re not growing, you’re dying. You’ve heard it hundreds of times before, but there’s more beneath that idiomatic surface. If you’re not constantly uncovering and managing new data to support the growth and health of your business, I’m willing to bet you’re losing money hand over fist.

In a post-recession business world—where companies are operating leaner and meaner than ever before—how do you know that you’re operating as effectively and efficiently as possible? Without this question concretely answered, you’re leaving money on the table.

In business as in life, the only constant is change. The picture can be foggy and the risks are substantial, but it’s your job to ensure business is executed effectively and efficiently. For larger corporations, a single slip could cost millions of dollars in lost profits. For smaller companies, it could mean death. This constantly puts the strategic, analytical, and management skills of the C-level executives to the test.

Smart data management exposes the holes in your boat. Without the proper, comprehensive insight into company health, you’re undoubtedly bleeding money into dangerous waters.

Most companies of a certain size already have formal data management and analytics systems in place that provide executives and managers with KPIs and relevant reports regularly or at request. They have sizeable data warehouses managed by their IT departments. Massive amounts of time and resources are spent on data management and analysis, yet they only manage to scratch the surface of potential. Moreover, they regularly fail to fully support management at critical times, when crucial decisions must be made at short notice.

Does this sound familiar?

If you’re answer is “yes, but …” let me stop you right there. All too often I’ve heard from employees around the world who believe they just don’t have the time or resources to add business intelligence to their agenda or learn how to optimize its usage. Take a look at the recent articles debunking the most common reasons for delaying a BI implementation and why it could cost you your job.

These companies are suffering for it. Many, without even knowing it. There are a number of ominous warning signs that signify a company is letting precious dollars slip through the cracks. Let’s take a look at the five most common.

5 most common ways executives are wasting moneyStop Stalling

1. Customer loyalty involves a little guesswork.

Customer loyalty is harder earned than ever. In a rapidly changing consumer landscape, what does customer loyalty even mean anymore and how can it be quantified? There are both objective and subjective indicators of customer loyalty which should be monitored closely such as conversion rates, churn rates, renewal rates, likelihood to recommend, and usage metrics.

Getting your arms around customer loyalty helps prove the effectiveness of marketing in real numbers. You can drill down to see which campaigns worked and which didn't, and control marketing expenses by focusing on what matters most. This knowledge helps enhance engagement with customers in a more meaningful and informed way which builds trust and, ultimately, loyalty.

2. You depend on the IT department to pull a report or analysis.

There are many steps involved in hopefully getting an accurate representation of your company data if you’re still pulling reports manually. There’s the process of extracting the data, manipulating it by hand based on your needs, and validating the information to ensure reports reflect the right data. Usually, it can only be done by the IT department so those who need the information can’t pull it or adjust it themselves. For many companies, this means it could take days to pull a single analysis.

Generating reports and analyses are time consuming and complex. If you don’t have a degree in computer science, it isn’t likely you’re going to master the system. And information doesn’t do you any good if you can’t access it when you need it. Data sources and complexity are expanding rapidly. Not only is it vital to measure and monitor internal data -- including that hidden internal data -- but now companies must be able to find and analyze relevant data in the ocean of external data.

This is a major suck of company time and resources. Wasted time equals wasted dollars.
Executives are wasting money

3. You’re not monitoring your KPIs every day. Yes, EVERY day.

A Key Performance Indicator isn’t indicating much if it’s only being examined once a month. KPIs must be measured frequently. At a minimum they should be monitored daily. Ideally, they’re monitored 24/7. If it takes days from the moment you request an analyses to the moment it lands on your desk, it’s simply not possible to make strategic business decisions.

Extracting data every day, multiple times a day keeps a steady finger on the pulse of your company health by observing not only the large peaks and valleys, but any small changes in business that could ultimately translate to big bucks.

Need help figuring out which metrics are most important for your company? This guide will help you figure out the KPIs you should be examining: The Metrics That Matter.

the metrics that matter

4. You have cloudy insights into operations.

As the CEO, “cloudy” is not an adjective that should ever be in your business vocabulary, unless you’re discussing how the weather might impact the company picnic. How can you be expected to make decisions without full insight into all of the operations of your company? You should have the power to translate data into visualizations at a touch of a button. What was once a complicated spreadsheet suddenly becomes a simple answer.

But it’s not just about data graphs; it’s about working within the information to see where the trends begin and how to move forward with them. No detail is too small with the right tools. The more the picture of a company comes into focus, the more confidently and intelligently decisions can be made.

5. You’re never quite sure everyone is on the same page. 

Not only is the amount of available data sources growing, but so is the complexity of the data. As a result, there’s a rise in analytics experts spending an increasing amount of time developing reports and analyses for an extended user base within a company. With different users manipulating data differently, it’s challenging to maintain a consistent view across the company.

This is especially apparent when those reports are generated in Excel and manipulations live only in an individual’s own files. These might then be shared through paper reports, word of mouth, emails, or via the company network, causing further fragmentation and loss of control of data consistency. It’s critical to work with a single analytics platform that provides a consistent user experience. This way, any changes or manipulations are reflected in real time.

Top floor executives aren’t the only ones who need to prove flexible and agile. Transparency and clear objectives help change management trickle down the organization. Analyses must be easily shared throughout the company, with only relevant data for each individual or department shown automatically. Dashboards can also be added to storyboards, so each department and team can effortlessly follow the progression of ongoing projects.

How it should be

If you haven't figured it out by now, the solution to all of those problems is a robust, bimodal business intelligence strategy. Here's what you're missing if you don't have one.

Analytics is dramatically changing the way companies collect and manage data. It’s transforming organizations from data-responsive to data-driven. And from a C-level leadership position, it’s doing much more than that. In the fast-paced reality of corporate management, business intelligence and provides the most valuable commodity of all: time.

Time wasted waiting for requested reports and spent in performance briefings and meetings that could have been avoided. Not to mention time lost before problems or KPI deviations find their way through the system and land on your desk. It places the data and analysis needed to make informed, fast, and intelligent decisions right at your fingertips.

There's no time to hesitate. As we all know, in the business world, time equals money. It’s time to turn your valuable data into valuable dollars.