Cella Consulting partners with Marketing and Creative Operations teams across industries to help them identify and capture opportunities. One common opportunity we see is the need to create operational metrics to add value to their departments.

In this third installment of our five-part series on metrics, we will take a close look at today’s data-driven business landscape. We all understand the potential of operational data to provide us with insights for strategic decision-making. However, for this potential to be realized, we must empower operational data end users within the organization. These end users play a vital role in transforming operational data into meaningful improvements. In this blog, we will explore the importance of operational data end users and discuss strategies to empower the right people, at the right time, to make decisions.

Who Are Operational Data End Users?

Operational data end users are those within an organization who are going to leverage the data on performance indicators, to gain insights to make informed decisions that drive the business performance. They range from executive leadership, business analysts, front-line managers, and those closest to the processes. Whatever the position, operational data end users need the ability to access relevant, accurate data to effectively fulfill their responsibilities.

What Are the Benefits of Operational Data?

By providing operational data to those involved in the day-to-day operations, organizations can tap into their subject matter experts (the right people) to uncover insights that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The ability to monitor operational performance to identify opportunities and challenges in real time (the right time) will lead to continuous improvement initiatives that will likely capture efficiencies, and cost savings.

For example, consider how important it is to understand both in-market performance (doing the right things) and operational performance (doing things the right way) to your planning efforts. While two tactics may be equal in their effectiveness, they may have very different levels of efficiency to produce. If capacity is an issue for the team, you may need to prioritize the option that is more efficient and having the data to support this will improve those conversations.

Strategies to Empower Operational Data End Users:

  • Provide user-friendly analytics tools that offer self-serve capabilities like custom reports and dashboards tailored to their needs.

  • Ensure data quality by establishing robust data processes and governance models including data validation mechanisms, data cleansing routines and enforcing security.

  • Prioritize data literacy initiatives that enhance the understanding of data concepts and bridge the gap between experienced data users and less experienced users.

  • Foster collaboration and knowledge sharing such as project discovery sessions and project retrospectives.

Start by Understanding Your Operational Data End Users

Different user types and levels will have different data requirements that need to be considered for collection and visualization. For example, take the key performance indicator for Accuracy to SLAs. Executive leadership may just require a once-a-month report on that metric that simply states the percentage of accuracy in relation to the goal percentage. The manager of the team may require that the performance indicator be reported on a weekly basis and broken out further to see each accuracy metric such as Errors and Timeliness,  with the ability to slice the data by Line of Business, Region, Asset Type and others. Those closest to the process, the doers, may require additional information in a real time dashboard for the data to be beneficial. They may require that Errors be defined by type and Timeliness visualized in certain buckets (hours late, days late, weeks late).

  • Identify the different personas or user types that could potentially benefit from your operational data.

  • Share your established or proposed Performance Indicators along with the definitions for them to assess how they might use that data.

  • Capture and collect requirements from user types. It is recommended to capture inputs from multiple users in each user type category and vary the levels for a complete understanding of how they will use the data.

  • Utilize user stories, concise, informal descriptions from the perspective of the end user on the requirements or functionality they desire, as this format encourages a user-centric approach while focusing on the “why” of each requirement. They are written in a standardized format.

User stories are traditionally used as a powerful tool for software development because they enable alignment of efforts. Once all user stories are collected, they can be sorted by requirements which can then be prioritized based on value to the organization. These are considerations you will evaluate when it comes to creating a roadmap for data collecting and visualizing efforts. Continually assess data end user needs as they evolve and gather feedback that will inform future continuous improvement efforts to optimize the data user experience.

Be sure to communicate your progress on providing operational data to the organization. And finally, take goals around continuous improvement efforts and capture even the small wins, they can add up to big savings over time.

Monitoring operational performance through data allows end users to track progress to goals, identify areas of opportunity to drive improvements and identify root problems as they occur. It allows for decisions based on evidence not assumptions or guesswork which leads to informed outcomes. Operational data is the backbone of continuous improvement and in the hands of the right end user, provides a powerful tool in the form of a feedback loop for optimizing your creative and marketing operations.

Do you need help from an independent resource in the development of your metrics strategy? Contact us for information on ways we can support you with recommendations, implementation, and training.