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 obviously talking about reporting and analytics as part of software selection, I want to back up to talk about your organization first.
What does your organization measure today and are you measuring any metrics as they relate to the software you are about to implement? If not, you will want to strongly consider pulling together benchmark metrics so you know where your organization started before you implement the software. So, if you are searching for software to help you do something faster, make sure you measure and document that set of tasks before you get started. 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 share a definition of each 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 that are 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 give an example: 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, but 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 piece of analysis I might do is to see if there is any correlation between location of a sales call and conversion of close rates.