Given the importance of data for financial reporting, performance metrics, and increased insights, it should be viewed as a key strategic asset worthy of continued investment. Even during economic uncertainty, we recommend continuing to maintain data assets and, where practical, prepare to increase investments in data insights.
Strategic areas related to future investments to consider include:
- Data Governance & Quality
In order to get the most value from your data and inform the right decisions, a solid data governance foundation with ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement is critical. Promote understanding and adoption by embedding Data Governance roles and responsibilities in core business processes. Ensure that ownership, decision-making protocols, and issue resolution processes are clearly captured in policy and process documentation, understood, and followed.
Consider making a small investment in automation in order to efficiently build in data quality checks and analytics to further support speed and accuracy. Your data quality rules are codified and automatically executed against relevant data sets when implementing a data quality rules engine. Exceptions can be monitored and managed through related reporting and through automated issue management workflows, which enable automated triggers such as emails or alerts to individual(s) based on customized rules and thresholds. This supports increased visibility and timely intervention and corrective action. Rules and thresholds can be easily modified over time to adapt to lessons learned and process changes.
- Data Access & Controls
Increasing the ease with which users access the “right” data in a timely manner will support increased use and value from your existing data assets. Where practical, self-service, on demand access to data and key recurring reports further enables both value and efficiency.
Even if you have self-service platforms in place, be sure to adequately communicate, inform, and train your team on available content, supporting processes, and tips/ tricks to extract additional value and insights from this investment. There could be data sets and reports originally developed for your Sales team that would also benefit your Operations or Finance teams if they were aware.
While ease of access and use is important for adoption, access rights must also include the appropriate security and internal controls. Also, keep in mind any recent changes in your company’s existing controls environment due to COVID-19 implications or other factors. Programmatic, preventative access controls are standard in most applications and can be supplemented with reporting on access and HR changes (new hires, retires, or role changes to review for access implications).
- Decision Making
Be sure to utilize analysis of your existing data to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), especially priority items related to liquidity and spend during times of economic uncertainty. Embed the review of relevant KPIs and reports in key processes and leadership meetings to ensure the right visibility and use in decision-making processes.
Stay current on advances in data applications that support self-service data analytics, making it more efficient and cost effective than ever to support decision-making with data insights. If it is not practical to begin investing in analytical tools at this time, do your research and plan now so that you’re ready to move forward once funds are available.
Think through potential ways to monetize your data, internally or externally. Are there further sales insights that you can pull out of your existing data? Are there ways to make your supply chain more efficient or reduce inventory? Are there other cost insights that you can uncover to reduce, defer, or negotiate costs?
Many organizations are finding creative ways to unlock insights and stories in their own data sets to improve customer satisfaction and personalization. This includes using natural language processing and/ or Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate these data insights and quickly alert teams to things such as changes in sentiment trends based on positive or negative word counts in customer interactions or reviews.
The importance of data and related processes, communications, tools, and technology can not be overstated. Even in times of economic uncertainty, small investments of time and/ or funding in these areas can be easily multiplied in the impact and value provided to your business and your customers.
Our latest guidebook provides leaders with a roadmap to enhance resiliency plans, simplify operations, address new financial requirements, and more. To download, please click the link below.