7 Steps to Creating a Data-Driven Work Culture
Learn how to cultivate a work culture that thrives on data insights that propel your business forward.
Creating a data-driven work culture can lead to a wealth of positive impacts across all divisions of an organization. Potential benefits span from more efficient customer service, shorter lead times, and improved employee retention rates to reduced operations costs and increased sales.
Despite the potential for valuable improvement, a recent global survey of close to 10,000 business leaders revealed that only a small percentage of companies are actively using data to drive their business decisions. Even with more than two-thirds of those surveyed agreeing that data is crucial to the decision-making process, less than one-third of the leaders surveyed are using data to make crucial financial and strategic business decisions.
Some of the most common barriers to using data in decision making include a general lack of understanding of the data itself, an inability to extract meaningful insights from the data, poor accessibility, and a feeling of overwhelm in the face of the immense amount of data that is being collected.
When it comes to creating a data-driven work culture in your own organization, there are a few best practices that can help you to develop a realistic and viable strategy. Here are seven steps to help guide you through the planning, implementation, and maintenance of a data-driven work culture.
1. Plan Big But Start Small
With all the potential value to be gained from implementing and encouraging a data-driven work culture, it can be easy to set overly ambitious and, ultimately, unrealistic expectations. But changing a culture is not something that can be done overnight and must be planned for with care, thoroughness, and a clear vision of what you aim to achieve.
It will be much easier to adapt existing aspects of the current culture to support data-driven programs than to try and force entirely new ways into existence, so it’s imperative that you have a thorough understanding of your current culture before you make any attempts to change it.
During your initial planning, you will also need to consider how the programs you want to implement and the culture you hope to cultivate will impact your business, your employees, and your customers. These predicted impacts should be shared with your team to help them fully understand the reasoning behind the changes they are being asked to make.
2. Get Good Data
Before you can implement data-driven practices and programs in your workplace, you need to ensure that the data you and your employees will be using is relevant and reliable. You can’t build a successful data-driven work culture off bad data.
Start by assessing the quality of your current data streams including the accuracy and accessibility of your CRM and/or ERP systems. Address any gaps in the data and investigate anomalies to verify the validity of the data. Any necessary upgrades or changes should be planned for in conjunction with the implementation of other programs and the training of employees.
Beyond the quality of the data itself, it is also important to understand what information is relevant when, where, and to which members of your team. In order to avoid overwhelming your employees with more data than they need, careful decisions must be made as to what metrics should be tracked and how employees in specific departments or roles are meant to use them.
3. Appoint Enthusiastic Leaders
Your culture leaders will be essential for propagating your data-driven culture downward to your end-user employees. Curating an all-star leadership team will ensure that each division has a core representative of the program that acts as a resource and example for employees as well as a point of contact for executives and across teams. They will assist in delivering key training and skills development as well as generating buy-in by addressing individual and team specific concerns in practical and actionable ways.
4. Prioritize Easy Access to Relevant Data
Part of the role of the leadership team will be to ensure that employees and other end-users have access to the data they need to make informed decisions. The easier it is for employees to access the data they need, the more likely it is that they will use it consistently.
While not every role will require access to every piece of data, there are certain points that everyone in the organization will need to have access to. The metrics that require universal access should be limited as much as possible in the early stages of your initiative to avoid overloading your employees and creating redundancies where data analysis is concerned.
5. Invest in Specialized Training
In order to present the most relevant and effective training and skills development across all divisions of your organization, your training sessions should be tailored to the specific needs of each team, presenting only the tools and tasks that will be applicable to their work. Training should be held at the point of implementation to avoid confusion and ensure that employees can begin practicing what they’ve learned in real-time, which will help them retain the information and adapt to the new tools and behaviors more quickly.
On top of training employees on new software and implementing best practices and behaviors, it is also important that employees understand how these new tools and methods will help them in their role in addition to the impacts they will have on the company as a whole. Having a deeper understanding of the practical outcomes of what they are being asked to do can help employees stay more engaged, improve overall buy-in, and increase employee retention.
Once your employees feel empowered by their new knowledge and skills, they may even begin to use certain systems in ways that you didn’t expect.
6. Foster The Culture
This is arguably the most difficult step in the entire process of shifting a work culture. It will require your leaders to invest a significant amount of time and attention into developing both the individual mindsets and group dynamics of their teams to reflect the priorities of a data-driven culture.
This is where the work you put in to develop your leadership team really pays off. Engaged and inquisitive leaders help foster teams of curious and capable employees. Leaders should challenge the employees on their teams to articulate their thought process when it comes to data-driven decisions:
· How did they define the problem?
· What tactics did they use to solve the problem?
· What other options did they consider?
· What were the benefits/drawbacks of those options?
· Why did they choose this solution over the others?
Asking these key questions opens the door for the employee to examine their own decision-making process as well as helping them to understand how the data plays, or can play, a role in these decisions.
7. Celebrate Success
While there will never truly be an end to the process of creating and nurturing a data-driven culture, it’s important to recognize success and celebrate the completion of key milestones to continue inspiring and incentivizing your employees to maintain the culture you have worked so hard to build. Share positive results with your teams and highlight the tangible impacts of their efforts. Then, go back, take what you’ve learned, and apply it to the next steps as you continue to expand the culture and scale your goals to meet newfound capabilities thanks to a well-planned, data-driven culture.
Get the Software and Support You Need to Create a Data-Driven Work Culture with Kwixand.
If you’re ready to get started creating a data-driven work culture, but your data isn’t where you need it to be, the team at Kwixand Solutions can help. Our business consultants have decades of experience helping businesses like yours implement solutions to improve the quality of your data and understand how to use it. As trusted Microsoft Dynamics & Power BI Partners, we dive deep to understand your business and design creative solutions tailored to meet your needs. Book your free consultation with us today to learn how we can help your business.