5 BI Reporting Best Practices for Cultivating a Better Data Culture
Director of Content Marketing, Sigma
If business leaders had to define their relationship with data, many of them would choose to say, “It’s complicated.” That’s because data can be plentiful but elusive, and useful but complex.
Many domain experts choose to use data under limited circumstances, while others don’t use it at all — despite knowing that it can help them. Often, this is because they view data analytics and reporting as too complicated or too much of a hassle. However, BI reporting benefits organizations in many ways, most notably by informing business leaders and their decisions.
You can encourage business leaders to take advantage of data possibilities by cultivating a better data culture. Read more about what it means to foster a data-driven culture, and learn five best practices that will get you there.
What is a data-driven culture?
Data-driven cultures emerge when teams focus on knowledge and understand how and why they should be taking advantage of the data available to them. This kind of culture is valuable to an organization because it means leaders don’t make decisions based on gut feelings but evidence, trends, odds, and patterns.
Fostering a data-driven culture means every team can create value with the immense amount of data at their fingertips. If you limit data to a small group of data experts, they may become overwhelmed with ad hoc requests and only get to the tip of the iceberg. Beneath that sea of information are the insights (who/what/when/where/why) that business users want to explore.
Before you can create a data-driven culture, you first have to recognize what makes one. Here are the characteristics you’ll find among the people within a data-driven culture:
- They value curiosity. People ask questions like, “How did we get here?” “Where are we heading?” “What’s a better way to move forward?”
- They focus on data knowledge. Team members have some level of data awareness and a willingness to learn. Placing value on learning helps improve data literacy, which in turn drives business value.
- They prioritize accuracy. Everyone knows that “close” isn’t good enough when it comes to data.
- They promote accessibility. While the data team oversees data, they encourage business leaders to dive into data, and everyone in the organization is willing to share reports and information.
- They seek improvements. Teams strive to always improve in areas like performance, customer experience, and more.
- They act rather than react. Teams don’t just wait to see whether they are meeting KPIs, but they are always thinking of new questions to ask and ideas to explore.
Follow these BI reporting best practices
Here are five best practices that will help you foster a data-driven culture:
Start with questions
Be clear about the answers you’re seeking. As a business leader, which insights will benefit your teams the most? Know the “why” behind the questions you’re asking. For example, you may be curious to know which marketing campaign produced the most leads. But, the answer is only useful if you keep digging until you see why it was the most effective method. Then you can decide how to build on that information to recreate that success in the future.
Set the bar
Identify the key metrics, goals, and KPIs for your report. Make sure these get highlighted, so it’s easy to see where your organization is excelling and where there’s room for improvement.
Visualize each metric using the right format. Make reports easy to understand and ensure they work on all the devices business leaders use.
Design reports with the audience in mind
Collaborate with the colleagues that will use the reports and get buy-in before investing time building each report to ensure it’s useful. Be mindful of the order they will read each segment, so their eyes go to the most important information first. Also, make sure to design reports so that changes, trends, and patterns are easy to spot — data visualizations can help!
Business experts are busy, and they shouldn’t have to spend valuable time tracking down information. Meet them in the middle by sending scheduled reports to the right stakeholders in the publishing format they want. This could be via email, Slack, or even embedded in everyday workflows.
How your organization will benefit
A better data culture means a better bottom line. Forrester research has shown that insight-driven companies grow more than 30 percent each year on average.
A long-term soft benefit is that business leaders—and others in the company—establish a better relationship with data. This results in increased confidence, improved skills, and more motivation to explore data. This increased engagement allows domain experts to quickly and directly apply their knowledge to BI reporting with minimal help from data teams.
Business leaders who are enthusiastic and hands-on with data will be better able to gain valuable insights. BI tools like Sigma help domain experts follow reporting best practices, so they achieve the most precise and accurate results to make better business decisions.
Still have questions? Read our free online guide to BI reporting here.
Average yearly growth of insight-driven companies