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Before you start with data reporting and analytics, here is what you should know


Before you start with data reporting and analytics, here is what you should know

You might have been thinking about data analytics and building reports and dashboards. And how you can use data to make smart decisions and keep track of your goals and KPIs.


I'm here to give you an idea of what you should consider before you start your journey and provide examples of where you can find data in your business.


First, let's get one thing clear: Leveraging data analytics is not just a competitive edge—it's a building block of sound business strategy. 

For any business, diving into data analytics can seem daunting. However, any company can unlock powerful insights that drive growth and efficiency with a good strategy and the right set of tools. My idea with this article is to give you an insight into what to think about and inspire you to consider a data-driven business culture. 



Let's start with what data you can access in your business to help you make intelligent decisions.

Where can you find data in your business? 

Understanding where your data comes from is the first step. Companies today have a lot of data available; the problem is usually identifying how to access your data and how to use it. And if you would like to combine data from multiple applications in one report, how can you do this? 

Let's give some examples of various data sources:

  • Website Data: Tools like Google Analytics provide insights into visitor behavior, traffic sources, and engagement metrics. This data is priceless for optimizing your website and improving user experience.

  • Order Data: E-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce track detailed sales data. Analysis of this data helps identify buying trends, product popularity, and potential inventory issues.

  • Financial Data: Accounting software like QuickBooks or FreshBooks offers comprehensive financial data, including cash flow, income, expenses, and profitability, which are critical for financial planning and analysis.

  • CRM Data: Customer relationship applications like Salesforce, Zoho CRM, or HubSpot can give great insight into customer demographics and help you identify customer segments to understand better and communicate with your customers. 

  • Customer Feedback: Platforms like SurveyMonkey or built-in feedback mechanisms in customer service tools like Zendesk gather customer satisfaction and service data, helping refine customer service strategies.

  • Social Media Metrics: Social media platforms provide a wealth of data through their analytics tools, like Facebook Insights, which can inform content strategy and marketing campaigns.


What should be your tool of choice?

Once you know where information (data) can be located and collected, choosing the right tools to aggregate and analyze this data is next:

*(Data aggregation is the process of summarizing information to find totals and trends.)

  • Reports: Tools like Microsoft Power BI and Tableau can integrate data from multiple sources into cohesive dashboards that offer actionable insights at a glance. You can connect data from a database or a flat file, like an Excel file. 

  • Spreadsheet Software: Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are excellent for startups and smaller businesses that require flexibility and simplicity for managing and analyzing data. However, they only offer some visualization functions. 

These are just some examples; there are tons more. 


Analyzing and Data Reporting

With the right tools in hand, businesses can proceed to the analysis phase:

  • Trend Analysis: Identifying patterns over time can help predict future behaviors. For instance, analyzing website traffic trends can help predict peak periods and prepare marketing strategies accordingly.

  • Customer Segmentation: Dividing customers into groups based on demographics or behavior can tailor marketing to increase effectiveness.

  • Performance Metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) specific to different areas of the business can track and promote progress.

  • Financial Health: Regular analysis of financial data aids in more accurate budgeting and financial planning.


Acting on Insights from your data!

Data is only as valuable as the decisions it informs:

  • Optimize Operations: If data shows high return rates on a product, it might indicate issues with quality or customer expectations not being met.

  • Enhance Marketing: Data-driven marketing can result in more targeted, effective campaigns that speak directly to the desires of the consumer.

  • Financial Decisions: Robust financial data analytics support better budget management and investment planning.

  • Product Development: Customer feedback and usage data guide the development of new products or improvements to existing ones.


Things to Know Before You Start with Data Analytics

To ensure that your data analytics efforts are successful, here are some key considerations:

Clear Objectives

Define what success looks like for your analytics initiatives. Setting specific and clear goals helps guide the data collection and analysis process and ensures the results are relevant and actionable.

- KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

Data Quality

Ensure your data is accurate, complete, and timely. Investing in regular data cleaning and validation processes is crucial for reliable analytics.

-Just like your kitchen cabinets have a structured layout, each type of plate, bowl, glass, and mug has its place. Your data needs to be structured and organized so it can be easily accessed and used.

Technology and Tools

Assess whether you have the necessary tools and technology to handle your analytics needs. Consider both current and future requirements to avoid frequent platform changes.

- Losing the data reports that you have gotten used to is like turning the light off in your bedroom at night; you know where the bed should be, but you still doubt your self and tread super carefully.

Skills and Resources

Consider if your team has the skills required for effective data analysis. If not, you might need to consider hiring specialists or training existing staff.

Sometimes, hiring a pro can be good to start you off; maybe even consider hiring someone who helps you handle and maintain your data reports solution.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Be mindful of data protection laws applicable to your operations. Ensuring compliance with these regulations is critical to avoid legal issues and build trust with your customers.

You might be running a business where you have access to people's personal data; you should always make sure to follow laws and be respectful when handling, analyzing, and sharing this type of data. 

Integration Capabilities

Check if your existing systems can integrate new data analytics tools. Seamless integration is essential for maintaining efficient operations and ensuring data accuracy.

Some apps can directly integrate with data tools like Power BI or Google's Looker to make visualizations. This might help you save time and money.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Weigh the potential benefits of data analytics against the costs involved. Make sure the investment is justified by the expected gains in efficiency, revenue, or cost savings.

In the end, business is business, and we all have the same goal: make more money than we spend. So compare costs and weigh your options. 

Scalability

Plan for the future by choosing solutions that can scale with your business. This foresight prevents disruptive system changes as your data needs grow. 

Make sure to invest in a solution that can grow with you; your business needs will change, and rebuilding or reinvesting in your reporting solutions might be expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes, various online applications will do the trick when it comes to data analytics; sometimes, you would like to mix data from multiple sources, and then going for more custom solutions is necessary. 

I love a good data culture!

Foster a culture that embraces data-driven decision-making. Encourage employees at all levels to rely on data insights for daily decisions and strategic planning.

-Yes, yes, yes. Build a stable analytics and reporting solution that "has your back" when making decisions. Make everyone in the company trust your data; then, they will know whether to order that new pallet of products or, with confidence, change their marketing campaign's target audience.


Conclusion

Knowing your data will make all your business proccess quicker and easier. 

I have never built a set of reports and heard someone say, "Ohh, knowing this information will not help me at all in my day-to-day work." 


Starting small can be great for a small business. Build yourself a Break-even report and a cash flow report to know when you are making money or getting into the green. 


Data should be at least one of the following: Fun, Informative, or Valuable. 

If not, you need to reconsider. 



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