By Dennis Hung

Even the most sophisticated data analysis techniques and methods may be of little real value for businesses that fail to identify the most important metrics and benchmarks. Every business is a different and data sets that may be directly relevant to the needs, circumstances and plans of one organization may be of limited use to another. For many business owners, just understanding the difference between data and metrics may be a source of considerable confusion. Addressing the following issues can ensure businesses are able to identify which metrics are of the most immediate importance.

Universal Metrics

There are numerous metrics, such as sales revenue and operational expenses, that all businesses should know. Lacking sufficient insight regarding key benchmarks or working with information that may be out of date or less than complete can make it all but impossible for businesses to make effective decisions. Identifying which metrics are essential for basic planning, day to day operations and routine assessments helps to ensure that business owners will have access to the detailed information needed to make more informed decisions.

Every Business is Different

Identifying more specific metrics may be a more difficult undertaking. The needs and concerns of a business may change rapidly, depending on both situation or circumstances. Maintaining an up to date understanding regarding key aspects of operations can be of paramount importance when confronted with a dynamic situation or a time-sensitive opportunity. The importance of concerns like new customer acquisition rates of the total hours and costs of a specific process can fluctuate a great deal from one situation to the next and businesses that may be forced to work with outdated information could be placing themselves at a serious disadvantage.

Reassessing Existing Business Plans

While all commercial organizations would do well to prepare for the future, strict adherence to an existing business plan could lead to many problems. Reassessing different aspects of a business model, plan or operational process in order to identify any areas that may require further refinement or improvement can make a crucial difference. Shifting priority to different metrics based on the latest operational assessment or the changing parameters of an existing business model helps to ensure that organizations are able to remain flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. Failure to update older plans or to assess their results and effectiveness is a liability that few organizations can afford to take lightly.

Access to the Best Tools and Resources

Digital tools and automated resources that allow businesses to more easily assess key data sets are not an asset that should go overlooked. Executive dashboard make it easier to utilize real-time assessments or to assess at-a-glance reports could help to ensure that businesses are able to utilize the full range of data analysis and reporting methods they need to stay informed. An outdated reporting process or a lack of access to the latest software applications, tools and digital resources could end up creating more serious complications and obstacles than businesses may have anticipated.

Finding the Best Solutions

With so many metrics that need to be monitored, creating and managing a data analysis or reporting process that may be better suited to their specific needs and situation is a concern that businesses can no longer afford to discount. Not every metric, report, benchmark or data set may be relevant to a specific situation and businesses that have the tools and resources needed to ensure a more flexible and adaptable data analysis process may be able to enjoy plenty of advantages. The means to create, implement and manage a data analysis solution that may be more readily adapted to different metrics or be better suited to their specific needs is a concern that small businesses would be wise to address.

Dennis Hung has extensive experience in business and technology fields, and loves to write in his spare time to help others.