How to Hit a Home Run Using Business Intelligence

How to Hit a Home Run Using Business Intelligence

In Quality Management by Frances DonnellyLeave a Comment

How to Hit a Home Run Using Business Intelligence

Ahhhh, summer! Doesn’t July just make you think of freedom, fireworks, hot dogs and favorite summer sports like baseball?

For us, July also means receiving the summer edition of GPOptimizer which also reminds us of baseball! This summer issue has lots of information on Business Intelligence from Dynamics ISVs, including ours on page 29 (seen here). As I read through the publication, I kept thinking about the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill because of the focus on numbers and trends in making exceptional business decisions.

Watch the movie and you’ll quickly see why this is a great summer movie pick! Success in baseball, and business, relies on knowing and utilizing the numbers and the trends to drive towards the best quality decisions.

Critical trends we’ve observed in our industry:

  • Business Intelligence software will be an investment priority for many firms in the coming years (Gartner research).
  • Business intelligence will need to move from the IT department and into the self-service arena, allowing individual users of data to construct their own relevant analytics.

It’s about getting things down to one number. Using the stats the way we read them, we’ll find value in players that no one else can see.

~Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), Moneyball

The increasing interest in Business Intelligence makes terrific sense. After all, from global warming to sports outcomes, we are frequently reminded of the importance of paying attention to metrics and monitoring trends.

So what are our challenges when we try to apply baseball wizardry to business?

Our decision making is hindered by the inability to see and analyze the data we require in easily accessible, timely and meaningful ways.

We understand the cost and investments required for BI tools and methods but are not quite sure if our organizations are ready to take full advantage of such programs.

You have to play ball using the right information:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are often considered the home run of information sources, and there are many software product demos that grandly finish with the sales engineer bringing up a dashboard of KPI’s while telling the audience that they too can achieve such brilliance.

As someone who spent my earlier career in materials and operations management I can attest to the importance of KPIs in helping manage and lead my departments. But I also know that not all KPIs are equal or even relevant across organizations and industries.

Our experience and work in the quality function has extended our understanding of the relevancy of KPIs and, more importantly, in the need to be selective on what KPIs or metrics are tracked.

What we know for sure about playing by the numbers:

  • Not everything that can be measured should be measured.
  • Measurement and reward go hand in hand, so be sure you are measuring for the behavior you want to reward.
  • Accuracy and timeliness need to be achieved, one or the other won’t do.
  • If relevancy is not clear, no one will be able to care about the result.

So, if you are considering introducing Business Intelligence tools to your organization a great place to start is to develop your line up by taking the time to first understand your existing metrics. Are they helping or hindering your team’s performance? If your organization doesn’t have an agreed set of metrics yet, then the first step is begin the process of selection and evaluation.

No matter where you are in the process you may find it helpful to apply this Six Sigma related question to any metric you are planning to invest resources in collecting and monitoring:

“How does collecting, monitoring and analyzing this metric specifically help our organization achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction?”

Business intelligence resources on deck in Summer Edition 2013 of GPOptimizer:

  • How to mine or access organizational information: If you are ready to invest in Business Intelligence then you will find some useful information in the articles authored by BIO Analytics or Solver on pages 6 and 16 respectively.
  • How REAL metrics help reduce the cost of poor quality: Read our article Business Metrics – Outstanding or Overwhelming on page 29 of the GPOptimizer summer edition 2013.

Do you have stories about tracking selected metrics that went way wrong?

Share them with us and we can help others with the task of selecting the right metrics to create a winning solution. Play ball!

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