“I don’t think it would be a good use of resources to spend much time researching the situation. I know the solution that we need.”
Whether you’re developing a new product, building a website or changing your brand, planning an important project means making difficult decisions. As a manager, it is often tempting to steer the ship based on intuition and the data available.
However, data collection should focus on fostering an ongoing conversation based off of quality information. To an extent, the more data you collect, the better prepared you and your team will be when it comes to making a tough call. Here are three key characteristics of smart data collection.
Give to Receive
This may be counter intuitive, but the best way to ensure you are collecting good data from your teams and your stakeholders is to keep them informed. Think of it in terms of a data sheet in excel. If you make any typos or miscalculations, your entire sheet can get thrown off.
In the case of your team, your employees can best give you reports on their status and make their own informed decisions if they understand the context of how their work contributes to the ultimate team goals. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out,” and the opposite, while not guaranteed, goes a long way in the right direction.
Data collection is an ongoing cycle. Doing your part to communicate good data on a regular basis to your team members will help them provide you with good data in return.
Don’t Wait to Review
Just as it is important to keep your team updated on a regular basis, it is vital to maintain regular check-ins with your team members. The more data points you collect over time, the easier it will be to spot trends such as problems that need solving or employee performance that needs to be rewarded.
Certainly, it is possible to over-report or review too frequently, and reporting fatigue can lead to diminished returns. That being said, finding a cadence – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – that allows you to gain a solid understanding of progress without getting stuck in the weeds is the best way to stay ahead of the game.
No Cookie Cutter Solutions
Measuring your team’s progress should be unique to your business, and you shouldn’t try to measure everything. Further, there’s no need to start from scratch with setting metrics to measure your success. However, it is important to make sure the metrics you use accurately capture what you want to measure.
For example, if you are an e-commerce company looking to grow with smartphone users, beyond tracking your sales, you may consider monitoring the percentage of your sales that come from mobile devices. If you’re running a marketing campaign to soccer moms, you may capture inbound website traffic and bounce rates from a set of mommy blogs.
In each case, the value comes from being able to focus on the best data points within the clutter of data to gauge your team’s progress.
Unless you have a strong data collection process in place, you may be driving blind. Make sure you have the right process in place with useful tools and metrics that are tied to your goals.
What is your process for tracking the success of your business and your employees?