What’s your biggest business challenge? Throwing software at your business challenge might not be the first step to success.

7/12/2017
business challenge

​More times than not, we see so many companies that have large business challenges and they tend to think software will fix their problem. Don't get me wrong it can, but it has to be done strategically. 

I encourage you to have a discussion with us here at Lodestar Solutions. We'll help you build out a roadmap for the right solution and do a comprehensive walk through of your data and your data challenges before you make a software selection. We have several programs that help clients identify their core business challenge and then assess the best way to tackle it. 

This can be done all through our comprehensive BAR Program, our Data Discovery workshop and our Destination Dashboard workshop. Below you can find out about each program:

Our BAR (Business Analytics Roadmap) sessions help you prioritize your analytic initiatives to become a data driven organization. We review your current state of how you gather, analyze, report and make decisions on your data. We work with you to identify gaps and define solutions, whether they are changes to processes, structure of existing data and/or needed technology improvements. With your team, we’ll schedule periodic sessions to keep focus on scope of initiative and progression to resolution.

Data Discovery includes sessions on what your existing data is able to provide and what may be lacking for executives and business leaders to make informed decisions. Knowing what you have, what you need or what cannot be accessed efficiently with your data is essential before you start adding more software.

Our Destination Dashboard sessions help you to get that “view” of your company designed the right way for the right people. The concept of a dashboard sounds simple, but usually morphs into that old parable of the blind men describing an elephant. Our workshop gives you quick and easy tips on how to design dashboards before you invest a lot of time and effort in an attempt to “mind-read” what the business requires in their dashboards. Using these repeatable tips that we provide you will reduce the overhead of maintaining redundant, unused or irrelevant reports.

It's important to understand your data because if your data isn't good, garbage in is going to be garbage out. Analytics software is only as good as the data it works with. You want to review your source data before you buy analytic software because you may need to make improvements in that before you can improve your analysis on the data.

Our team of highly skilled, analytic advisers look forward to working with your company and solving your business challenges. Please reach out to our sales team at 630-724-7390 to schedule a consultation or email sales@lodestarsolutions.com

Want to find out more about Lodestar Solutions? Check out our Concierge Service​!

How to be an Analytical Leader: Lessons from a MLB Team President

9/13/2016

It’s time to get real and call some of you out. This might come across kind of harsh, but I have the best intentions in mind. I want to challenge you to be extremely honest with yourself. When the results of your actions don’t materialize in the analytical data as expected, do you panic and spin the story? Or do you move with agile precision and use the data to test a different strategy? What type of Analytical Leader are you?

As a guest to a Tampa FEI chapter event (Financial Executives International), I was recently reminded the keen differences between these two leadership styles. We were invited to the private Q&A session, with about 50 CFOs. I had the extreme pleasure of listening to Brian Auld, Team President of the Tampa Bay Rays. He spoke about how the Rays, with one of the smallest budgets in major league baseball, used analytics to go head-to-head with powerhouses like the New York Yankees.

Have you seen the movie "Moneyball"?

I have seen the movie Moneyball starring Brad Pitt, but didn’t realize that my home town team was a master of it. Using analytics, the Tampa Bay Rays stretch their budget by recruiting undervalued baseball players. They then play them in way that drives up their stats. Once a player’s stats hit a point where they become noticed and desirable to other franchises, they trade them for a large sum and money to purchase several new undervalued players.

Analytics is prevalent in all of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise business decisions. One of the biggest issues facing the Rays is low attendance. The issue isn’t as simple as it appears. It’s truly a combination of factors. First, the transient nature of Tampa Bay. Secondly, the fact that spring training for half of major league baseball is in the Ray’s backyard, making it easy for transplants to stay loyal to home state teams. Finally, we must mention the aging Tropicana stadium and it’s less than central location.

This is when Brian won me over. Not only is he a moral and ethical leader, but a true analytic leader. When asked about his ambitions to build a new stadium, he responded, “If the data doesn’t support the decision, then we don’t do it.” Most professional sporting teams are hiring lobbyists and other political advisors to push their agenda. However, as Brian and his team research to understand if a new stadium and/or location would improve attendance, they continue to rely on the data.

How does this relate to me?

Let's pivot back towards the analytical leadership spectrum. We have leaders in this industry who only engage in analytics if the numbers make them look good. To protect the “not so innocent”, no names will be directly called out. However, as I write this, I see their faces.

Instead of recognizing that it is just as valuable to understand what doesn't work, these leaders become masters of political spin. This happens when the data shows the current course of action is not producing the desired results. It's like a personal strike against their ego.

The key is to understand what IS and what IS NOT working...

They are missing point! Understanding what is and what’s not working is the best part of business analytics! How smart would you look in this scenario? You are standing in front of a room full of decision makers. You then explain how your department is using data and analytics to take corrective actions. Moreover, you're adjusting the strategy on the fly to move with the ever changing business environment. Sounds pretty good don’t you think?

In some cases, it is not entirely the bad analytical leader’s fault. Most are the byproduct of a bad organizational culture that includes finger pointing or blaming. In addition, you may find the constant threat of being fired is prevalent. If this is your reality, I am sorry to hear that. However, you do have a huge opportunity to positively impact your organization. If you’re ready to step up to the plate, it will take courage and sharp influence skills.

So what type of leader are you? Are you an analytical wet noodle? Or are you like Brian Auld - respected throughout your industry as a cunning analytical thought leader?

More Links on becoming an Analytical Leader

analytics leader
analytics leader

If you are reading this and thought, “Hey, I am senior level finance leader in my organization. I'd like to network and attend amazing functions with other finance leaders.” Then we suggest you use this FEI Chapter link to find one in your local area.

For more information on how to build an agile analytics program check out our “Choosing A Visualization For Your Dashboard blog.

Want more amazing FREE content on how to be analytical leader? Join the Lodestar Solutions Clubs as we are continuously adding videos, checklists and other forms of content.

How to handle crazy BI reporting requirements – Ask the 5 “W’s”

Reporting - Lodestar SolutionsHave you ever received a custom reporting request or data request that makes no sense?  Maybe you ask questions and the response you get makes you think, “Are these people are insane?” Instead of getting frustrated and venting to officemates, this is your time to shine!  The thing is, most people will reluctantly handle BI reporting requirements if it’s a superior or they will bury the request in the mounting pile.   STOP! This is an opportunity knocking at your door. 

There is a reason someone is asking the question! Here are some potential reasons for crazy BI reporting requirements :

  • Data is not available elsewhere or not accessible.
  • Data is not in a useable format.
  • Bad data exists.
  • There’s a business reason to look at data in different ways.

When you get these crazy BI reporting requirements requests, try asking the requester a few questions but remember to preface it by saying, “If you don’t mind, I would like to ask a few questions so that I build the report not just to provide you this information but hopefully address your next question regarding this data.  If I better understand your request, I will be able to create a more relevant solution.” 

 

  • Who will be using this report?
  • What would be your next question if this data seems out of expected ranges?
  • Will you need this on the mobile devices? Will you need to work with this offline?(Where)
  • How often will you need this information updated? (When)
  • Explain how you will use this data?  What business question are you trying to answer?  (This is the “Why” they need it.)

Once you understand the Who, What, Where, When and Why, you can create the best solution possible not just more reporting that will lead to another request.

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