When I started my career as a business analyst, my core responsibility was reporting. At the time, that meant doing a lot of work with pivot tables and vlookups in Excel, printing off the results and mailing them to individual business units. It was a manual, laborious process, but I remember that my biggest frustration with the work was never the papercuts or the monotony, it was that I felt like there was something missing. 

I was spending all this time on reports that answered questions about whether or not the company was hitting certain goals, but there was never anything deeper. The question that no one was ever able to answer was “Why?

Things have changed a lot since those early reporting days. My job responsibilities have evolved a lot and the reporting tools I use have also upgraded to allow me to ask and answer a lot more important questions. Now, I’m in charge of making sure we hit all of the important KPIs. Here’s a sampling of metrics that I own: churn, new business ARR, average deal size, collections, burn rate, headcount, support ticket count. 

Keeping track of all that information is important, but technology has advanced to a point where I can find all the data I need without using Excel or the post office. Modern BI tools allow me to create visualizations that track each of those KPIs and check it as often as I want, but if I were just building a series of one-off charts to monitor company goals, I’d still be missing out on that bigger why? question. 

To truly be taking advantage of the best data technology and pushing my company further ahead, I need to do more with my data. The first step is to collect all of the important individual systems of record (for us, it’s more than 20) together on a single platform. From here, I can create a single dashboard that houses living data as well as the goals each team needs to hit for a certain time period. 

This process doesn’t happen overnight, but as more and more data sources are combined and that dashboard begins to take shape, the team naturally begins to do more than just track progress. Executives and individual line-of-business leads start connecting dots and using data (and a data team) to answer why? for a wide range of business problems. As the team asks new questions and explores the data to answer them, everyone begins to take better ownership of their crucial KPIs and the company-wide goals start falling into place. This is how a data-driven team operates.

The end result of this process is a single dashboard that displays progress for every team at the company. It’s still on me to make sure we’re hitting those cross-team targets, but I can analyze data from every part of the business to find correlations and pull the right levers to achieve our goals. In a modern company, the entire business is so intertwined that the success of one branch often relies on a handful of tweaks that need to be made on other teams. All it takes to diagnose the issue, make the change and reap the benefits is someone keeping a pulse on the data and the right tools to answer why?

To see an example of the cross-team dashboard I use every day and learn more about what it takes to build one at your company, check out our One Dashboard to Rule Them All webinar.