Analytics is all about exposing truths hiding in your data, but not all of those truths are valuable to you and your organization. Furthermore, you can spend a bunch of time chasing down insights that you don’t really need. When it comes to making decisions, analytics empowers you to make informed choices, but that same information can lead to what some people call, “analysis paralysis.” Rather than taking action, they use analytics as a reason to be indecisive. They’ll hem and haw over the tiniest details, analyzing things backwards and forwards hoping to find a perfect solution. Sometimes a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Here are a few strategies for knowing where to draw the line.
Limit the number of visualizations you use
When organizations first start using analytics, many of them want to make a data visualization for every possible scenario, only to realize they never use them. Analytics tools open a world of possibilities, but you can’t explore all of them, nor should you. Analytics is full of vanity metrics that create a certain appearance, but don’t help you move the needle. It’s also full of metrics that are informative, but aren’t really actionable. The truth is, the average employee doesn’t need more than eight or so data visualizations. It may take some experimentation to figure out what those eight metrics are, but it’s unlikely one person will need much more. Find the metrics that make a difference, and get rid of everything else.
Limit the amount of detail in your visualizations
Cramming information into your data visualizations is just as bad as having too many. The purpose of data visualizations is to make things easier to understand, not to strain one’s eyes. Resist the temptation to shoehorn as much information as possible into your data visualizations. If your visualizations aren’t fairly easy to read, you may find you don’t use them as much as you should. Even if you consider yourself an analytics expert, a complicated chart is a complicated chart.
Balance analysis with action
Most analytics users have more duties than presiding over an analytics dashboard and watching numbers. It’s easy to find yourself spending too much time analyzing and not enough time doing. Find a balance that allows you to get the benefits of analytics, without turning it into a second job.
Remember that the purpose of analytics is to help you do your job. Ask yourself if your approach to analytics is helping, or just getting in the way, and be honest. Analytics has the potential to make you faster, smarter, and more efficient, but it also has the potential to make you slow and indecisive. The key to getting the benefits of analytics is being able to recognize how it’s helping you.
iCharts SaaS IQ is a good example of an analytics tool that gives you everything you need, while limiting your ability to go overboard. With eight pre-configured, pre-validated metrics, you can be sure it won’t turn into a boondoggle. Best of all, each metric is based on industry best practices, customer feedback, and input from NetSuite itself.
Learn more about planning an approach to analytics in our Resources Page.