As discussed in our previous posts, all your sales and operational data does not provide the same level of value to your organization. So then why do you think you should manage all data to the same level of quality? Quality is relative to the value the information provides or supports as measured by its contribution to your business objectives.
The goal is not perfection – because there is a cost to perfection that will not necessarily lead to increased value. A better goal might be... “imperfect – but with intentional and consistent quality”.
Here are some tips to help you develop and manage a balanced data quality program.
The concept here is that if you can’t map (clearly identify the affect of) how the data contributes to a meaningful and measureable outcome for your organization or department, then it is simply an interesting piece of information and not worthy of process control. Note that this does not necessarily mean that the data should not be maintained at all – but it does beg the question.
Begin by outlining the key measurements that drive your organizational or departmental success. These are the outcomes (think KPIs) that must be met in each of your organizational performance areas such as compliance, financial, operations, customer service or reputation management.
Next, go down a level and identify the measurable outcomes that drive success in each of your key measurements for each organizational performance area. For instance, one such measurement in the financial domain may be total sales revenue generated in a period.
Then map the data that contributes to each of those measurements. Be specific and identify the data element’s contribution level by categorizing it as:
Once you map each of the organizational performance areas, you should validate them based on the tiers you outlined based on our previous Blog post. Then you can more easily identify each of the organizational performance areas. This helps you understand WHY data is important and is valuable in supporting process and data quality communications with your team. This also informs how you must balance your organizational performance areas and therefore your data management and quality programs.
Lastly be sure to look at the data that you maintain that IS NOT on the list created through this analysis. Ask yourself why you maintain it. If you can’t identify how the data provides current or future value, is it worth having? In a world that leads you to believe that more data is always good – it can be argued that without intention and purpose it is just cost and not value.
Now you have the information to define data quality goals that are meaningful to your organization. Using data source and business process analysis techniques, you can build processes that increase the value of the right data while not spending time and money on information that does not lead to results that are important to you. You now can build an intentional and consistent quality management program for your data. This is the subject of our next post – in the meantime, click here to read the rest of this blog series.
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In a previous blog post we outlined a number of areas in which a nonprofit can benefit by leveraging for-profit business strategies and tactics. One of those areas is looking at the concept of investment versus costs. Many nonprofits focus on driving down administrative costs, thinking of it as “overhead” instead of an investment that will drive future growth and greater impact in your community. Investing in efficient processes and systems can help you generate more donations, provide more services, and ultimately help more people. The “how” might be different than a for-profit business, but the concept of measuring the value generated from your efforts and investments in these areas is still a worthwhile activity.
While driving down nonprofit administrative costs is often internal, that perception is also heavily driven by demanding donors and foundations. Websites such as www.GuideStar.org and www.give.org give readily-accessible information about the percentage of nonprofit income dedicated to fundraising and administrative costs, in comparison with the funds allocated to programs and service delivery. Because donors are demanding to know the numbers, you need to be able to defend the value in investing in marketing, process efficiency, and operational improvement projects to ultimately help more people. Just like in the for-profit world, it’s all about getting a return on that investment.
A great example from the for-profit world is looking at marketing return on investment (ROI). They understand that a dollar invested in marketing services, should drive three times that amount back in sales. Similarly, for-profit businesses regularly invest in information systems to support operational efficiency. As a nonprofit, thinking more about the efficiency of your operational and client delivery processes can free up time and potential dollars to provide additional services. If you can be ten percent more efficient, then you have ten percent more to invest in helping more people.
Develop a business case. Nonprofits typically think in terms of lowering their ratio of admin costs to service delivery dollars, instead of investing funds strategically to drive even more donations. Instead of making decisions off the cuff, developing a business case is a valuable for-profit technique that nonprofits should leverage. Develop a solid business case, involve a comparison of both benefits and costs, and align decision making around investment instead of just cost.
Whether its spending time and money on fundraising, marketing, or improving the operational side of your nonprofit, basing your decisions on return on investment will help you fulfill your mission and provide more services, ultimately, helping more people.
If you have questions about developing a business case, we’re here to help. Please get in touch to learn more.
Brian may be the new guy at DPT, but he’s not new to business performance improvement. Having worked in the software industry for 12 years, Brian brings not only a wealth of experience, but also a touch of the unexpected to the DPT team.
“Ultimately, I want to help our clients be more successful in their endeavors,” says Brian. “My experience has taught me that technology is really the enablement of people and processes – you can’t buy a whole new system and not have the people that will use it in mind. That’s a common mistake that I’ve seen, but something that DPT consistently gets right.” For DPT’s clients, Brian digs in to learn as much as he can about their business goals and processes so he can align the software solution with the business needs.
“Life is all about balance,” says Brian, and when it comes to work-life balance, he has it figured out. When not engaged in helping clients address business performance needs, Brian is passionate about spending time on his hobby farm, where he, his wife, and their three kids work together to raise a myriad of goats, chickens, pigs, and a variety of fruit trees. “West Michigan has its own beauty,” says Brian, “And I’m happy to be here, to have family in the area, and to be able to serve local companies.”