31 May 2017

Using existing tools to make quick wins

We share two ways organisations can use software and solutions already at their disposal to make efficient 'quick wins'.

Given the current climate of continuous improvement, and with funds not always widely available, we set out two low-cost options that allow organisations to analyse data using tools already at their disposal.

Excel dashboards for management reporting

In this data rich world, many organisations are investing in costly business intelligence software in order to make sense of their data so they can monitor and improve their business performance. These types of data analytics tools are very powerful in supporting decision making and driving improvement.

Due to the level of investment required, however, such business intelligence tools are not always a viable option for many organisations, which is further compounded by the current financial and funding environment. This can leave a gap in terms of the capacity of organisations to produce user-friendly management information and engaging performance reports.

What many organisations often don’t realise is that Microsoft Excel is an excellent tool for dashboard reporting, offering a far more flexible and practical solution than you might think. Interactive Excel dashboards can be customised to meet exact reporting requirements and can be designed to provide an automated reporting solution. These dashboards enable organisations to:

  • Monitor key business processes and activities;
  • Summarise a large volume of data succinctly in a one page dashboard;
  • Analyse root causes of problems by providing data drill-downs at various levels of detail;
  • Analyse data in a timely manner so that problems can be identified and resolved quickly;
  • Automate reporting (removing duplication and repetitive manipulation of spreadsheet data);
  • Design the ‘look and feel’ of their own bespoke dashboards.

Most organisations will use Excel on a daily basis to store and record information.  However, they may lack the in-house expertise to develop their own Excel dashboards to make sense of this data. Having a template designed at the outset can provide a recurring and regular means to manage and monitor a whole range of data and related performance metrics for virtually any business process. There is no additional software investment involved and, once set up, the templates are easy to use and will undoubtedly help engage staff in performance.                                                                                                     

Surveys: Maximising qualitative feedback

Surveys are a valuable tool in gathering both quantitative and qualitative feedback to identify themes for improvement. Similar to Excel dashboards, however, many organisations have not yet realised the potential, or lack the in-house expertise and time to be able to develop surveys. Survey data can help pinpoint ‘quick wins’, identifying areas where organisations need to focus their resources in order to improve the user experience. They can be one of the most effective and efficient ways to embrace the continuous improvement agenda.

Online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo, are becoming increasingly popular, with many organisations using these systems to conduct their own surveys. There can be limitations with these systems in terms of designing the survey, the level of analysis, and the ability of staff to engage with and drill down in to the survey results. We have broad experience helping to make the most of these tools and the data that arises. Creating interactive survey dashboards, complete with automated charting and data drill downs, is just one of the ways to help analysis and decision making. Our experience also shows it tends to engage a far wider range of key decision makers in the process than may otherwise be the case.

Key elements to consider when introducing effective surveys include:

  • Having a well-planned and clear methodology for survey design, including key objectives of the exercise;
  • Strategies for maximising response rates;
  • Ensuring appropriate expertise in designing, facilitating and managing surveys;
  • Getting the most from the analysis, including professional analytical reports, an engaging format, descriptive statistics and thematic analysis that identifies areas for improvement;
  • Setting up an interactive survey dashboard that engages users with the data for self-evaluation and improvement purposes.

Regardless of what products and services you procure, there is almost always a bigger, better and more expensive tool available on the market. While there is no doubt that specialist or bespoke software can have a seismic impact, this doesn’t mean the more established (and somewhat less ‘glossy’) tools cannot support continuous improvement in your organisation. It’s important you therefore compare the tools from a cost/benefit perspective against more expensive options.

If you’d like to find out more information on how your business could benefit from implementing either of these tools, or if you’d like help setting them up within your organisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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