Back to Basics - 5 Keys to Getting Your Data in Order

By Jenny Oelkers | March 30, 2021

Has your boss or colleague ever asked for a ridiculously complex dataset that will involve pulling and crunching data from multiple sources?

As your mind races through all the steps of how you are going to fulfill this request, you ask the questions, “How do you hope to use this data?” or “What problem are you trying to solve?” and you receive the dreaded reply, “I’m not really sure, just curious.”

AARGH! 

HubSpot reporting dashboard

 

We agree that data is fascinating and if we had all day long to dig into the data and make fancy charts and graphs, many of us would consider this nirvana. However, I’m pretty certain all of us agree that simple curiosity and not knowing how to use the data may not be the most effective use of your time and the best method to move the business forward. 

According to research done by Bi-Survey.com the median number of internal data sources used to support decision-making is five. And, many companies are also pulling in additional external data sources. As the number of data sources increases, so do your challenges of making sure consistent and holistic data governance practices are in order. 

The amount of data available to us today is astronomical. When I started my career, Rolodexes were in vogue – you relied on basic spreadsheets and a wing and a prayer to guide you through the decision-making process. 

In 30 years, a lot has changed. 

Now, paralysis by analysis is often the mantra. There is an abundance of data sources, data points, and a multitude of ways to slice and dice the data. How can you come up with the right decision? And, let’s not even mention the fact that there may be the rare (cough, cough) occasion that the data from different sources doesn’t quite match. 

Why does this happen?

Often, data solutions and tools are put in place to fix a challenge or issue – it’s a patchwork quilt approach. Problem A arises and Solution A is selected to help mitigate the problem. While lovely, patchwork quilts are not a great model for data. How does Solution A interact with Solution B, C, and D that are already in place? It’s important to have a plan.

siloed departmentsMany companies find their internal departments are siloed.

Marketing selects solutions to help gain audience insights and reach the masses. Sales teams seek tools that maximize their productivity and offer one-to-one customer insights. Finance looks for software solutions that will help them keep the books straight. But who is driving all these decisions? Is it each individual department or should decisions be brought up to a more all-encompassing level? In order to be effective with your data, we vote for a more all-encompassing approach. 

When a new solution is proposed, every team should consider these questions:

  • Is there an existing tool in place that may be able to solve the challenge at hand or at least get you to about 80% of what you need? 
  • If a new solution is selected, does it have the capacity to easily integrate with the existing tech stack? 
  • Who will champion this solution from a holistic company perspective?
  • How will all parties understand and adopt this solution effectively?

Getting Your House of Data in Order

If you are starting from square one, lucky you. You have the opportunity to clearly lay out your customer-centric, holistically focused approach to collecting data based on agreed-upon KPIs. 

For many, their cadre of data is already strewn about in a multitude of disparate tools and often provides little actionable data to move the decision-making process forward. In order to get organized, sometimes we have to return to basics.

  1. Know your audience and develop your Buyer Personas
    1. What data points do you need or want to collect from your audience in order for you to nurture this relationship and move audience members into customers? 
    2. Make sure you speak with various members of your organization and incorporate their input into your persona development. 
  2. Build consensus around key performance indicators (KPIs). 
    1. Is the data you are collecting from your audience helpful in measuring your KPIs? 
    2. Is the data you are requesting a nice to know or a need to know? 
    3. Is the data in a consistent format across your data sources? Are the fields you are collecting in a format you can “read” or “measure”? Numeric fields, radio buttons, and checkboxes are much easier to read and drive decision-making than free-form text fields. 
  3. Diagram your tech stack. Clearly understand the purpose and interactivity of each tech tool.
    1. Don’t overcomplicate! You can start on a whiteboard, sticky notes, or you can get a little fancy with a tool like Lucidchart.
    2. Make sure you clearly show how data moves between your tech tools.
    3. If you are collecting data across multiple channels, strive for uniform naming conventions and agree upon your “source of truth” database. 
  4. Ask the question, how are we going to use this data? And, how can it help our audience?
    1. By reflecting on this question, you will keep a customer-centric focus and avoid unnecessary data collection.
    2. Knowing the anticipated end result will help you develop the appropriate format of data collection. 
  5. Is it time to upgrade your tech tools? We can all be wowed by the bells and whistles of a fancy new tech tool; however, a robust, more holistic approach may offer significant benefits. 

As a HubSpot Diamond Partner, we are huge fans of the HubSpot CRM Platform. HubSpot offers a variety of hubs that can be purchased individually or holistically. At the center of the software is the CRM which holds all key customer data insights that can help make key business decisions. In addition, HubSpot offers three additional hubs:

  • Marketing Hub
  • Sales Hub
  • Service Hub

Combining all of these hubs offers a robust data solution that provides a multitude of functionality for companies to drive their business forward quickly and efficiently. In addition, the tool allows for key integrations of many popular technologies. Reporting within HubSpot pulls data from all hubs and offers a customizable, wide-ranging dataset that many companies use as key performance indicators in an easy-to-use and accessible dashboard format. 

Solutions

Today, more than ever, it is critical that your company understands and agrees upon your data “source of truth.” Ensure you have a solid understanding of how your data sources are interacting and establish agreed-upon performance metrics from company leadership. Once you have these questions answered, it’s time to get to work and make sure your data is set-up for action, accuracy, and success!

Wondering about your data and tech stack? This free five-minute assessment will help you quickly identify the gaps in your sales, marketing, and customer-service technology and process. 

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