If you want to improve something, you must be able to measure it. We have to suppose that you are selecting software to make your organization run better and more efficiently. While we will be talking about reporting and analytics as part of software selection, I want to back up and talk about your organization first.
Know Your Metrics
What does your organization measure today? Are you measuring any metrics as they relate to the software you are about to implement? If not, you should consider pulling together benchmark metrics. This will help you know where your organization started before you implement the software. For instance, let’s say you are searching for software to help you do something faster. You will want to make sure you measure and document this set of tasks before implementing the software. This exercise will also help you determine what is necessary in the reporting and analysis of the software you are evaluating.
As we’ve eluded to, reporting and analytics are important to evaluating progress and achievement in your organization. Before we dive in, I want to define both so that you understand the distinction. I will also give credit to Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog entry on the topic for providing these definitions (Analysis refers to what you do with Analytics):
Reporting: The process of organizing data into informational summaries in order to monitor how different areas of a business are performing.
Analysis: The process of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful insights, which can be used to better understand and improve business performance.
Most software you find will definitely have reporting; ways to measure your data and compare trends in a daily, monthly or annual fashion. You want to find software that has reporting tools. These tools should be flexible and allow you to create and modify reports as the needs of your organization evolve. Truly exceptional software will give you ways to organize and modify the reports to start to extract useful insights (analysis).
Let’s say I have a piece of software for a sales team. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I have two reports:
- Report 1 shows me how many sales calls, estimates and closed deals each salesperson has in a stacked bar graph for the week.
- Report 2 shows me where each sales call happened, by salesperson for the week.
This software has the reports I want. In order to do analysis with these reports, I want the software to allow me to see both reports on the same page, maybe side-by-side. One analysis I can do is look for any correlation between location of a sales call and conversion of close rates.