In the area of field operations management, business managers unanimously agree on the importance of capturing and analyzing data to improve efficiency and execution quality. As a result, technology solutions are increasingly being deployed to manage field teams for capturing execution data and ensuring process discipline.
Still, despite multiple interventions to follow a data driven approach, managers frequently find themselves in a position where it is inconvenient for them to get into the right data for better decision making. They’re left with ad-hoc reports generated by IT/analytics teams. This leads to, what we call as the ‘CCTV’ approach, where the analysis of data is focused on understanding what went wrong. This shifts the focus away from how it could have been prevented from going wrong in the first place so that the same mistake is not repeated in future.
At Channelplay, we have not only pioneered the use of field force automation technology (our mobile based reporting solution- ‘1Channel’ is being used by 8000+ users across various industries), but we have also worked proactively towards moving beyond the ‘CCTV approach’ when it comes to business reporting. Our key learnings have been listed in the points below-
1. Don’t compromise on real time information access
Many times, in order to improve the quality and scalability of reporting, IT teams/solution providers insist on models of data warehousing which add a delay in the reporting system. Information which should be available in real time is then seen with a lag of 12-24 hours which impacts its actionability. With real time information, managers can take a quick corrective action and prevent any delay in execution.
2. Use frequently accessed modes of communication
The self-service paradigm in business intelligence aims to make it extremely easy for users to explore the data. However, in cases where immediate action is desired, instead of providing a separate website/application to view/download the reports, it is better to rely on frequently accessed tools like SMS and emails. Let’s say if a crucial product is ‘out-of-stock’ in an important retail store, rather than finding it out from a report, it might be more useful if the concerned manager immediately gets an alert through SMS/email with the required details.
3. Leverage the power of new visualization tools
While visualization tools which are far richer and more interactive than earlier tools are available, managers still rely on the older ways to look at the data. One very crucial example is the use of GPS. While most of mobile based reporting solutions are capable of capturing geo-location, most managers and their teams don’t use the richness of this information in visualization and analysis.
4. Involve business for continuous feedback
Without involving business teams in designing business intelligence and reporting solutions, you not only miss out on the important insights which the final user of the system could have provided them, but it also negatively affects the ownership that the business teams feel toward such solutions. Moreover, as the business requirements keep evolving, it is extremely critical for the long term success of any business intelligence/reporting project to establish a process of continuous feedback from business teams and the users of the solution.
5. Reduce the dependence on reports
Finally, it is important to understand that the reporting and analysis paradigm has a built-in delay where teams wait for data to come in before they analyze it. Far more collaborative applications like ‘asana’ reduce the need for viewing reports as complete action on projects is clearly visible to every user in a nice and simple manner. Managers can then view the progress in real time and provide live feedback on the project. Users can also take action on the feedback and comments provided and the updates are also triggered as email alerts to concerned managers.
We sincerely hope that you’ll see a world of difference in your last mile execution if you use the above ideas in your business intelligence and reporting approach.