Data analysis might not sound like the most exciting of tasks to be carried out within a business, but one thing is for certain – it’s one of the most important.
Sitting there staring at a screen or sheet full of numbers and graphs can leave many scratching their heads feeling as though they’re back in a maths lesson, (and most people hated maths lessons when they were at school), and no matter how hard they try they just can’t get their head around the formulas and statistics in front of them and why they’re so vital. At the end of each month, most businesses have people rushing around trying to collate information and send it off to their clients, customers and shareholders which puts added pressure on us to get that data to them before the deadline.
So what is it that makes these numbers and graphs so important to the company? After all, many of us are just asked to provide a report on what we’ve done each month and…that’s about all we know. Well, the information provided is used to provide a snapshot of campaign progress and how the business as a whole is progressing. Some companies will work this out using a series of Excel spreadsheets, others have IT service management software that will analyse the way that the business is running and how certain areas have been challenged, like the IT help desk for example – how many times have they been asked to help, how quickly have they resolved the issue and so on.
This data can then be interpreted by the experts who can make an educated decision on what is working, what is not and which areas have room for improvement. Reporting this information to clients in particular can help to show what you have done well and the growth in terms of sales or social media interaction – whatever your task may be – and also where extra funds might be needed to help push another area of the business. In terms of reporting to Directors, however, it can be a good marker to show where extra investment is needed in the business whether that is in staffing because productivity isn’t as high as it could be with one or two extra members of staff on board, or where a certain system or process is letting things down and it may need to be modified or replaced.
Depending on the outcome of the monthly, quarterly and annual data, businesses are then able to work out whether they are performing successfully – in terms of what they are producing and in terms of staff morale – and whether the time is right to grow. This business growth could be anything from opening another premises somewhere else in the country, or even overseas, to try and enhance their reputation on a national or international scale; or in terms of adding new members of staff to areas where they feel they are needed to either help to increase productivity or to allow them to branch out into other areas of the industry.
The success of the company could be determined in any way – from the number of recent acquisitions, the amount of investment, new clients either on board or retained, or the number of employees they have in comparison to the same date a year ago. All companies determine success differently, although the majority look at it in terms of results (either financially or in terms of performance or productivity). Without having someone to easily analyse data and interpret statistics – and importantly where there are warning signs that things could be about to change – the business as a whole could suffer through mistimed or ill-judged decisions, such as taking on new staff when the money or business isn’t there or secure, or investing in larger premises when profits have hit a plateau.
Now it’s easy to see why people are pushing for you to get those stats to them by the end of the week!