Ryan Dolley of Count  recently posed a question on LinkedIn and it really made me think.

Here it is:

What’s the most frustrating part of Business Intelligence? There are challenges up and down the stack related to data quality, engineering, visualization and presentation – all are serious technical hurdles. But for me, the most frustrating thing by far is when a carefully prepared analysis fails to land or gets ignored by decision makers.

I’ve done analytics for clients for more than 20 years and I can really identify with this question. I’ve seen my share of missed opportunities. However, given the right approach, and the right circumstance, Business Intelligence, Analytics and Reporting can be very effective, and very successful. I want to share this insight with you.  It is only very rarely the profound and dramatic insight leading to massive change and impact we dream it should be. What do I mean? I mean it starts with the business and it is usually pretty simple. What are the key drivers of the performance you’re trying to manage and how can you manage them? Because this seems so boring, it seldom inspires the effort to get started and stick with it. It also starts with the business, not some new tool or technology with a sales rep, a marketing budget and marketplace buzz that will solve every problem, and management talent seems hard to find some days. 

I’ve recently done a lot of work in Skilled Nursing and have learned that the key drivers of financial performance are census, payer mix, and variable expenses related to census, like labor. The key to success is understanding census and payer mix and keeping variable expenses like labor in line with census. In order to be effective you need this data in near real time in order to make any adjustments you can. It also helps to have meaningful benchmarks and comparisons that managers can use to understand their performance and understand what they might be able to change performance. Over time, with focus on these metrics, the impact on performance can be significant. We’ve seen it. Trusted data with reliable comparisons, gives managers the information and context they need to make decisions with confidence. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t one of those brilliant insights like you see in the movies, just a persistent focus on simple inputs. Simple, though not easy. However, when you create these basic tools in the right way, they often enable secondary decisions that potentially have even greater impact. An example – when you have good and timely data on census in a skilled nursing facility, you have the ability to respond to unexpected opportunities with confidence. You can accept an additional patient when you know you have the spare capacity, you can give someone some time off if you know you have the slack. You can also compare your results to your competitors and use it to grow your business. 

These things do work, and they work best when managers and leaders understand their business well, when they have strategies in mind, and when they are committed to working with IT to create solutions. And when IT meets them there with solutions that fit because they also understand the business and want to serve it. This is a different approach than when IT demands detailed requirements from the business and then goes off to deliver them without business involvement. 

It doesn’t happen all the time, but when the right teams come together, it sure is a lot of fun.  

Here’s to finding more of this in 2022. Happy New Year!

If you want to vote in Ryan’s poll .