Find out how we resolved these real-life info wars using data management to promote business objectives
#1 Data transparency and myth busting: Seeing is believing
Data transparency is an important aspect of data management. It gives people peace of mind. Summarising data for management teams has become normal practice, but delivering a clear interpretation of the complex activities that make up those blocks of data is less straightforward. Beneath your ‘key’ performance indicators there’s a wide range of useful indicative metrics. Tracking them and using them for conversations about accountability removes guesswork and assumption. This opportunity to create positive communications around complex, company-wide operations is essential.
Transparency around business performance allows for progressive conversations, but you can’t just launch data transparency overnight and hope it changes everything. Done right, these systems can alter how people communicate with their colleagues and customers for the better. But to be successful, the relationship needs buy-in, understanding, trust and nurture.
This responsibility does not sit solely with one person or team, we all have a share in it. Systems need nurturing by everyone – our data creators, collectors, analysts and influencers. Often the integrity of your most useful data is reliant on your most junior team members. These individuals have the least experience and the weakest share in the business. As a result, they also often have the lowest rate of buy-in.
Valuable information comes from data designed to connect your teams’ activities and identify trends. What has the biggest impact on sales? Is it price, distribution, customer perception or something else? Causation can get lost in the memories of big teams. Being able to see, not only top-line performance, but the cause and correlations that drive those top-line metrics is the measure of great data. Data that busts myths and drives informed decisions.
Everyone needs access to good information to do their job and add value to their activities. How they access it is equally important. Dashboard creation for management’s reports is far more effective than simply connecting the relevant sub-level information for teams to use. I’ve countless real-life examples of projects where I've helped overworked teams, who only knew how to view the roll-up of everything. Giving them more concise information (showing where the plan was going awry) has allowed them to act. I also find senior management teams mistakenly enjoying great metrics. Usually because someone has switched off a data flag in the system, meaning indicators of poor service are not rolling up into top-line reporting.
Well interrogated data is not the only help people need to find more joy in the digital workplace. Empowering people to design fluid routines – that enable them to manage the volume of work, have timely information and still be creative – is what data literacy is all about. People are part of the system.
Does everyone in your team have great information and work routines? Can they excel in their line of work?
If not, why not? If it's access to affordable support, ivity exists to improve access to affordable relevant data communication and analytics skills.
#2 Improving team effectiveness: Happy chaos?
Improving team effectiveness can be more successful with outside help. Often, teams working with ineffective and even chaotic routines have done so for a long time. Equally often, the root cause is that the person who created the routines is well liked. They’re well respected and people don’t want to upset them. Or people don't have the confidence and technical skills to evolve the process.
Creating an appetite to raise the bar and consistently work to improve the bigger picture is not easy. It can feel like too much change if it's disruptive. And, if it displaces long servers, it can compromise culture and trust. If you get the right balance of ‘plan, review, do’ you can be methodical and balanced in your approach. This allows continuous improvement delivered by the whole team. The 'plan, review, do' process brings teams together and builds inclusion. Sharing business performance insights in these meetings creates progressive conversations. At the same time, you nurture the diversity in your teams by supporting everyone to have a voice.
A warehouse I worked with accepted deliveries of stock not listed on their purchase orders. They’d received these extra items and booked them into stock for years! The stock file was out of control. The new management team implemented a zero discrepancy policy. In no time at all, a whole aisle in the warehouse filled with stock marked as 'Return to Vendor'. These products were logged in a spreadsheet with no validation or design thinking. The log looked like this:
*Nickname of courier* over delivered 3 packs of stuff on Tuesday, logged by *Nickname of data enterer*.
To investigate the reasons for the variances, we decided what information was needed and agreed a reasonable timescale for achieving a solution. Within a week, we'd created a validated tracker in Excel that captured all the necessary data. It meant we could action returns easily. It also summarised the excess stock in a way that showed the workload created for other teams. And it led to informed meetings with the suppliers that resolved the variances and improved performance.
Data design around efficiency must keep people at the heart of the process. It adds value, reduces time and achieves team buy-in.
Do you need help evolving your ways of working? Want to claw back lost margin and improve people's experience of work at the same time?
That’s why we offer data relationship help. It's a people thing.
#3 New system or upgrade not delivering: Is IT to blame?
IT systems often get the blame when a new system or upgrade doesn’t seem to deliver the anticipated results. When a team doesn’t perform well how often have you heard, "I don’t have access to the information I need to do my job efficiently... it's because the IT team haven't unlocked [or designed] it for me."
Nooo! The IT team don't understand the nuances of your job, but they do understand where the back end of your database is. They keep it safe, backed up and connected to other databases. It's the responsibility of colleagues in the business function to unlock access to meaningful data. They know how to present it in a useful way and who needs access to it to do their jobs.
I worked with a sales team during peak trade, where decisions were based on both the stock due in and stock on hand. Stock due in was being used before it was entered on the system. I had a conversation with the IT team. Within minutes they introduced a new, company-wide view to show the stock available in the warehouse as it was being picked. “We’ve been asking for this for years", said a number of long-standing members of the team.
Never assume IT know what you do with the data they unlock for you. When you talk to IT professionals a little bit of systems theory goes a long, long way in our complex digital world. If you don't speak this language, beware of salespeople who will sell you a system you don’t need. It pays to have (at least a little) knowledge of your back end and to have great relationships with the people in your IT team.
If you need energetic and innovative ways to develop IT as a core business function team, I will guide you. Please don't have a roadmap when you can have a conversation.
#4 Increasing your teams’ data literacy: Knowledge is power
Why is data literacy so important for your teams? Because every team in your organisation uses data. Understanding the data they’re using enables people to make more informed decisions, reducing risk and improving outcomes. To really understand it – and how they can use it – means developing knowledge.
Collaborative work environments encourage knowledge sharing and foster a learning culture. Sharing knowledge is a key part of learning. When you fully understand something, you’re in a position of influence and power.
I've been fortunate to work with businesses that thrive on learning. Big corporates promoting this culture with learning academies, knowledge sharing initiatives and social events. And small, family firms with a can-do approach and leadership that encourages raising the bar. They share a mantra that 'if we only do what we have always done we will never achieve more, better, or faster'.
Knowledge of how your systems work will influence the way you work. Your systems should work for you. Yet many systems keep people working for them.
Confidence to influence complex systems has lagged behind digital disruption in the workplace. This is partly because the pace of change has been so rapid and exhausting. But it needs leadership which enables and empowers teams to find measurable gains.
If you want to start knowledge share around better work processes, I can help.
I facilitate motivational, learning lunches to kick-start conversations about efficiency and operational processes. I share top tips, with your teams, on quick wins that carve out time and make work better.
#5 The importance of mentoring for data management: Immeasurable beings
Data management mentoring opens the door to opportunity. Success requires access to these opportunities, mentors who share their experience, and a healthy disregard for disparaging comments (there will be many). I love stories about people who found success despite being told they would not amount to much. Success needs you to keep learning and an open mind. Successful mentoring will help you to do exactly this.
I've experienced managers who left me to sink or swim and made no investment in me in the way of training or support. I was incredibly lucky this didn't happen early in my career! Now I see (with increasing regularity) inexperienced people thrown in at the deep end. There they're left to drown in convoluted systems – unable to organise their workload.
In data science the programming of algorithms relies on the correct labelling of data, so computers can learn and make decisions. We know that labelling humans is difficult and subject to many biases. Labelling theory shows us that doing this can even be self-fulfilling. ivity promotes the thoughtful labelling, collection and design of data. Data managed like this reveals real-world patterns, enabling conversations that deliver positive change.
Low data maturity? Data management mentoring is vital to progress your journey to improved and increased data capability.
Need a lifeline for high churn areas? People struggling to grasp what's needed for the role?
Data management mentoring from ivity supplies the data communication expertise your business needs.
#6 Change a toxic work culture with accountability
Toxic workplace cultures are full of mistrust, gossip, hostility and disfunction. These cultures of blame and distrust use fear to quash open conversations. They thrive on a lack of accountability.
Everyone gossips at times, so ensure business chat includes reliable facts on performance.
Great data creates transparency, demands accountability, and builds trust.
Create routines that allow people to experience enjoyment in their work. Opportunities for trial and error are important. Creating a history to review those lessons is vital.
Accountability is best embedded when a team has support to deliver business metrics. I make decisions supported by science – and creativity – meaning my voice can cut through the noise and be heard.
Want to create high performing teams that work together to form one great culture?
#7 Naming conventions for data management: Don’t talk BS
Naming conventions for data management are important. Getting business language embedded into your team's conversations is key to quality.
Business is as fashion conscious as the catwalk. People thrive on new and buzzing trends. Your customers' language will change and you need to keep up with the dialogue. You might think I’m talking BS – I’m not. I’m talking Information Technology and IT matters.
ivity translates the business languages you're operating in, so they make sense with the business objectives you need to measure.
ivity works with business communities that use data to create great experiences for people at work.
That data can create smart outcomes and tech that are a force for good. Tech advances mean we should be working less and able to share work more. We want brands and businesses we work with to develop operations that are enjoyable for their people. We want their consumers to recognise them for it too.
ivity provides access to data management skills on demand – to supercharge your team. We love our work and can help you channel your people's energy into producing great outcomes.