Every day, in every office around the globe a report is being generated; the data in that report is intended to serve a purpose, whether that is to validate a hypothesis, show progress (or lack of), track, measure, etc. Database queries, Excel manipulations of pivot tables and many other tasks are regularly being done. Usually, the command is “just get me the data”. However, I am going to propose that business analyst and database programmers take your time and be a little slow in returning the data, after all, “data can tell any story”; at least, till the following points are consider.
- Access – Yes, everyone wants the data. Experience has shown that the privilege of access to data is very easily provided to anyone who asks. However, without first establishing the program, the project or organizational goals, and the recognition by the program/project manager, or requestor the understanding of these goals, and until there is a clearly recognized confidence by the report producer that everyone is looking in the same direction and using the same “language” (definition of what the data fields are) then the answer is “Access Denied”.
- Program Objectives – Many organizations struggle with clearly defining their program objectives, both qualitatively and quantitatively. In the B-2-B world and for this discussion, the focus is on the quantitative perspective. Companies want to help their customers achieve their objectives and are quick to provide data in support of these objectives in order to demonstrate the benefit of their product and/or service. To illustrate, let’s say the customer’s objective may be to get their employees registered into an education program by ‘X’ date. Imagine the following; if, after, let’s say 1 month the customer’s program manager comes into a meeting with great enthusiasm because she/he is reporting they have 98% registration and there is only a little time left prior to the end of their stated goal date, then a Director/VP says, “what about [insert new quantitative goal here]?” Without a clearly defined, up-front quantitative objective, the program manager is at a lost.
- Interpretation – Data, when viewed by different individuals can be interpreted by in as many ways as there are number of viewers. Imagine for a moment that a Manager, a Director and a VP all are in the same meeting, all have generated reports in hand, however all arrive at different interpretations and conclusions of what the data is telling them; think about the ensuing conflict of dialog – not a pretty picture. Who is right?
I propose that 3 out of 5 readers of this topic will get it. Get what?