One of the greatest things about being part of a fast growing business is that we are constantly evolving! As a small business, you may think that managing your data is easier. That your data is actually less important to you than a Multi-Nationals. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
As an advocate of analytics, I spend lots of time talking about how valuable data is. Showing people the power of the information that is right in front of them. But, one of the hardest things to convey to people is the importance of good, clean data.
Power BI Craze
As a business we use, and have for many years, Sage CRM. We use this to manage our Leads, Opportunities, Cases, Companies etc. Recently, we have had something of an analytics craze take over the office. A few months ago, the team was introduced to Power BI, Microsoft’s free analytics tool. Power BI connects into a SQL Server database, which means we finally have access to our CRM data!
Suddenly, there were dashboards creeping up all over the place. Opportunities by Person, Status, Stage, Product. Cases logged, solved, unassigned, by priority, by customer. You name it, we have a Pie Chart for it.
Team Moral or Competitive Edge?
Having built Power BI Reports & Dashboards for customers, we know how valuable it can be to finally get visibility across your business. But, I don’t think you can really appreciate it, until you do it yourself. One thing that I found particularly interesting was the sense of accountability that seems to be appear when a Dashboard goes up on the wall. There is something about seeing your name on those Bar Charts that makes you want to do better. Perhaps its the shame of poor efforts being broadcast to all. Maybe it is a sense of team pride. Or, and this gets my vote, is it just having that competitive edge. Whatever the reason, we have seen a real surge in ownership and accountability across the team.
Reconcile, Reconcile, Reconcile
When putting together dashboards, one of the main things we talk about is the importance of validation in your data. You can build the most beautiful, informative dashboard but if the data in there isn’t right it is absolutely worthless. It is amazing how quickly someone can lose faith in any analytics you present, if they can find something wrong. The classic one for us is “Did you filter out the deleted?”. I can not stress enough, how important it is to reconcile your data. For us, that has been particularly eye opening because we uncovered some pretty scary stuff along the way! Let me walk you through it.
Guys, why so many blanks?
I sat down with the Sales a few days ago and went through the usual, “What do you want to see?”. ” What would make your life easier?”. And we came up with our list – Opportunities to Follow Up on Today, Overdue Opportunities, Opportunities by Product, Stage, Type, Owner etc. Once the dashboard was built we went through the usual reconciliation process between Power BI & CRM. All the data was right – winner. The dashboard went up on the screen and all was well. Until a few days later, when one of the Managing Directors came over to look at the dashboard.
Now, I was thinking ‘Ah, admiring my dashboard I see!’, and I am pretty sure the Sales guy next to me was thinking ‘Ah, admiring my excellent Opportunities I see!’. In fact, we were both wrong. She gathered the Sales Team around and simply asked, “Guys, why am I seeing so many blanks?”. When I looked up at the dashboard I began to notice the common theme across all the visuals. A good chunk, at least 30% of each, was labelled ‘Blank’.
Good & Bad Data are Equally as Important
The reason for all these blanks was simply because there were so many different fields in CRM. This meant that all the Sales Executives were filing in different fields. Many were leaving important fields blank, simply because they didn’t know they were supposed to. We had no idea that this was the case, until those dashboards went up! Needless to say, a mass clean up occurred. Not only did we have to go back and sift through all the old opportunities, but we also had to clear up CRM. That applied across all Entities, I dare not even tell you the state of the Lead data!
While good data allows you to analyse the business and make informed business decisions, bad data is is equally as enlightening. Without trying to analyse this in the first place, we would never have known how poor our CRM data was. We have seen a spike in responsiveness, our Sales Team are much more in tune with their customers. And this will, in the long run provide us with an even better platform for analysis.