Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Business intelligence with military tactics.

The most important aspect of taking action is tracing the follow-through, measuring the result and then creating an efficient and effective feedback loop. With faster feedback come faster observations, faster orientation, faster decisions and faster action; in short a faster OODA loop. The faster you can make intelligent decisions the better positioned your company will be to compete. Keep a tight, documented connection between actions and consequences, and then keep that data in front of decision makers in actionable form.

In the previous post, we quoted Tony Schwartz Harvard business review blog,“We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not,”

He prefaced this statement with the observation that CEO’s and senior management tends to spend long days in meeting after meeting inundated in email and fighting fires. And they know that this way of working doesn’t serve them well – professionally or personally.

Look, every business has goals, and everyone knows that those goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. But what businesses don’t know about goals is that they can be as well defined in the beginning as possible, but without consistent, fast follow through you’re unable to judge the effects of actions toward your goals, and they therefore are no longer measurable, meaning that you have no insight into their attainability, realism or potential timing.

In the software world, we call tracking of results ‘metrics’. SharePoint calls them Key Performance Indicators.  When we say you need tight feedback we mean that you need to see the effects of employee behavior both as quickly as possible and in terms that mean something – like performance change. If you are working with reports that are 6 months old, they are not useful. And if you are working with reports that don’t translate quickly into situational awareness, then you’re not going to be able to judge changes in departmental behavior fast enough to make effective decisions.

This is why we spend a lot of time with companies both understanding their goals and drivers, and understanding what information they need to keep at the forefront at all times. With this understanding we then develop a customized Business Intelligence design, usually involving at-a-glance dashboards, custom gauges, the ability to drill down into data and decide where to spend your time next and automatic updates and flags for the most important information. See in one sweeping glance what is going well, what is average, and what needs your immediate attention.

We have worked with many companies and consistently they need good markers to troubleshoot what matters most. For instance if profitability has gone down, what happened? Is your cost off? How is your revenue stream? If cost seems to be in line then look into your sales pipeline to see what’s going on there. And the absolute must: Measure it and then put it in front of decision makers in a way that is easy to process to make the next decision. When you enable better decisions people can truly affect their own outcome.

With companies, it’s often not the things you know that you’re losing out on, it’s the things you are missing. Without measurable data, actions taken toward goals cannot be evaluated and improved upon. Take our previous example of profitability changes – if both your cost seems to be in line and your sales team seems to be on target, then you go to accounting with a drill-down. Maybe you’ll find out that hey, there’s an inventory of sold product that is sitting in a warehouse waiting on paperwork. And in a world with well-thought-out software solutions that match your business, you’ll be able to see all of that and make all of those decisions in just a few clicks, without ever leaving your desk, not to mention make a report about it, then potentially create a workflow to prevent a similar occurrence for the future.

Every company already has a great deal of information, but if it’s scattered and you have to track it down, you’re losing valuable time. Get good software that provides you with good data, in actionable form, puts it in front of decision makers, and provides a direct feedback loop. Move through the OODA loop as quickly as possible with data that is accessible, measurable, available for ad-hoc reporting and in a central location.

Missed Observe, Orient or Decide? Check them out here.

Nate Richards
Nate has over 18 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He founded Entrance in 2003. Nate is the past President of the Board of LifeHouse Houston, a Christ-centered maternity home ministry, and is past Executive committee member and Treasurer of Houston Achievement Place, a foster care and social skills training non-profit organization.
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