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In Focus July 2017

Data-Driven Decisions

How data can help your organization validate its results

July 03, 2017
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Numbers. Not the friendliest of figures or the easiest to understand sometimes. They can be especially daunting whenever they’re referred to as data.

As an in-house service provider or building service contractor, you have countless tasks to complete each day, and it takes time and effort to keep track of your organization’s needs. Data just becomes another headache, especially when you have a difficult time trying to gather it and then have no idea what to do with it.

A study conducted by the Business Application Research Center found on average, businesses are only using 50 percent of the information available to them for decision-making. As a business owner, contractor, or manager, you should not settle for taking advantage of only half the information at your disposal.

The reality is this: Most of the time, cleaning companies don’t even know where to begin when it comes to tracking certain types of data for their businesses, which is a disadvantage for companies that are competing with multiple other businesses in the same field. So how can you get ahead?

Find Value in Data

According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, companies in the top third of their industry that have adopted a data-driven decision-making culture are 5 percent more productive and 6 percent more profitable than their competitors. Quality data allows leaders to make major discoveries about their companies and solve complex problems, leading to better business strategies and performance.

Use it to track accountability. When data is used to make decisions, transparency is not optional. Data allows you to keep track of who is doing what and who to hold accountable when tasks are done wrong or not done at all. When you have access to more information about your business, you are more aware of the processes that are working and the ones that need a second look.

Use it to improve efficiency. A second benefit is time; when you start making data-driven decisions, you can save time by focusing on the real problems and finding solutions faster. Timely decision-making is crucial in a competitive market.

Use it to improve effectiveness. As facility managers or cleaning business owners, you make numerous decisions that may involve anything from ordering supplies to hiring employees. Decisions also involve deciding if the technology and products you use are worth the company dollars they cost. The data you track can show if and how much money these products are saving, providing you with proof to justify your spending—in a nutshell, solid data can help to validate your cleaning and productivity results.

Combined, these benefits will help your business become (and remain) more competitive—an advantage that data-driven decision-making provides. If used effectively, the use of data can help you save money and keep you ahead of the game.

Collecting Data

Okay, now that you know what data can do for you, how and where do you start? Here are some simple steps you can follow:

Create a strategy. A strategy will help define what is most important for your business to achieve and what will actually make a difference.

Hone in on a specific area. Identify which areas of your business you would like to improve. Choose one or two areas, and once those have been tackled, you can move on to another area.

Identify business questions you haven’t answered yet. Now that you have come up with a strategy and objectives, the next step is to identify which questions you need to answer to meet those objectives.

Collect the data. Decide what method you’d like to use to collect the data you need. If you choose to invest in a data-collecting software or system, determine which kind will help best track the data and which will cater best to you and your business.

Review and assess the data. What answers does the data provide? What does the data tell you about the areas of your business you are focusing on?

Respect the data. Now that you have the data and have analyzed it, turn it into action. Let the data drive your decision-making.

Applying the Data to Validate Results

Let’s apply these steps to the following cleaning business scenario. The goal is to use the data to help retain customers.

Scenario:

A cleaning contractor is working with facility managers on how to be more efficient and thorough with inspections. To do this, the cleaning contractor could ask the following questions of his/her clients:

  • What can we change to be more detailed with inspections?
  • In what areas are we underperforming?
  • What areas are we overlooking?

Identifying the Answers:

Follow the below four steps to collect, evaluate, and apply data to help improve your organization’s cleaning inspections:

Step No. 1: Find a software that will help manage the answers to your questions in one place, from inspection forms to monitoring trends. Select one that will provide the most for what you pay.

Step No. 2: Collect the data you need; with inspections, this could take a little bit of time.  The data you are looking to collect are notes from previous and current inspections. Be sure to collect and record reports of both passing and failing inspections. They will compose the data that will identify any trends or any inconsistencies. The software you decide to invest in should do this for you once you provide the data.

Remember: Employees can also help to answer the previously mentioned questions. More than anyone, they can help to identify deficiencies.

Step No. 3: After you’ve collected the data, go through it. Hopefully the software you use will present it in a way you can easily understand and interpret. From there, decide what changes to make based on what the data reveals. Maybe some employees are lacking training or there is a problem with internal communication.

Step No. 4: Implement those changes; provide your employees with training or implement a new system for communicating if those are the issues.

Before You Get Started

Here are few other tips for successfully implementing data-driven decisions:

Educate yourself. If you want to become more comfortable with using data to help your business, there are various resources at your fingertips, including books, online classes, and other online resources.

Create a schedule. Make reviewing your data a regular part of your workday. This will help you make sure to always incorporate data into your decision-making process.

Stay on course. Keep in mind that adapting a data-driven decision-making culture will not be easy. It could essentially change the way you manage, and it could take time and a lot of effort to adjust, so be patient. The beginning may not be a piece of cake, but once you get past the hard part and learn to effectively use data, you’ll start to profit from the advantages it gives you.

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