Data is the backbone our practices – the data we collect, the data we work with and transform, and the data we then deliver to our clients.
Collecting data is just a natural part of the process. But what do we do with it all, and how do we stay on top of it – and make it work for us?
Well – that comes down to having a strategy on how to use it. There’s no value in collecting a piece of information if you don’t have a plan on how that piece of data will be useful to your business.
Client attributes are a prime example of this. Why does that particular attribute exist? Was it just what someone thought was a good idea at the time? When was the last time you considered the use of each one of your client attributes? And if it is relevant and useful (honestly?), how is that data being captured and maintained? Does the person responsible for maintaining that data have tools which can empower them to both see what data is wrong or not even needed and then be able to make changes to that effectively?
There are three things you need to do to master your data:
- Define what you want to see and WHY that data is useful to your business. I.e. Why do we need a “Days in the door” column in this report? Is this something which we are actively tracking and managing? Or does it just add to the clutter.
- Define the rules of this data. Every element of your report is based on some underlying assumption and logic. Assuming we’ve decided we want to measure “Days in the door” like in our example above, we need to clearly set out the rules that defines that number and ensure everyone agrees. Is it calculated based on the date that the work first hit the office, the date it was signed off, or the date the accountant first touched it? Defining these rules are important if you want to track data everyone trusts.
- Work through the process of how this data is handled. What procedures are needed to ensure that the right thing is entered at the right time? Is this procedure being assigned to the right person? “Work In” is a classic example of this – what needs to be done at this stage to ensure that all other data flows correctly?
Once you’ve worked through this process, you’ll have valuable information at your fingertips and be better able to implement reporting solutions that give you a clear view of what’s happening with that data (like this excel report that could save you $100,000).
Not sure where to start, or want to kick around what’s possible with your data? We’d be happy to sit down with you, off the clock, and explore new ways of working and chat about how you could turbocharge your professional service firm. Click here for more information and to book a time.