11 Aug 2021

Making decisions on what you know – not what you knew

Chances are, as a business leader, you’ve had to make significant changes to your business model over the past 18 months. For many, all business decisions in the last year or so have come down to one thing: survival.

However, as we move forward with a touch more certainty, businesses can begin to think about growth and adjusting to the next phase of the new normal. So, how can businesses move out of survival mode and get back to growth?

It’s easy to think that things will return to the way they were – more or less – but the simple truth is that consumer habits have changed. Your business, your suppliers, your customers, have all changed. This will impact every business, though admittedly some more than others.

Businesses have many decisions in front of them, and even the most experienced of leaders may struggle to determine the right course of action when faced with such a different environment.

This makes it crucial for businesses to have access to up-to-the-minute, relevant and digestible information.

Consider your systems and processes
Many businesses will have had data capture systems and processes in place long before “Covid-19” became a part of our common vernacular. But, given the change which has taken place, business leaders must consider whether these systems and processes are still fit for purpose.

Several companies, for example, will have developed a new online presence since last reviewing their information gathering processes. An online store will need very different systems compared to a bricks and mortar shop, so businesses will need to consider the impact of this on their data capture.

Even if your business model hasn’t changed significantly, the external environment will have. Data-based decision making will help to confirm the ‘gut feelings’ you have about your business growth and for that you need, well, data. It will also help to secure investment and buy-in from other stakeholders and enable you to move forwards with confidence.

You’ll need to know what information you need, how to get it and understand it. You’ll also need to consider the timeliness of your information – how will you get what you need, when you need it and ensure it is regularly updated?

Not another admin task
Though this might seem like yet another thing to add to your to-do list, proper information capture systems and processes should be empowering for business leaders. Not only will this help you to make better decisions, but by investing in efficient tools to help the process you will save yourself time and resources spent on admin.

There may be an initial outlay of time and cost in order to determine and deploy the correct procedures, but this will be easily recouped through greater efficiency and better decision making in the future.

Both data capture and analysis should be straightforward and efficient. This isn’t about collecting numbers so you can spend hours staring at spreadsheets. Instead, automated tools can bring you the information you need when you need, in a format that makes it easy to understand patterns and changes. The more time the entire process takes, the slower your decision making and the weaker the accuracy of the data.

So, look upon the revision of your information gathering systems and processes as a positive thing. By enabling your business to understand and review data at the touch of a button, you empower yourself to take advantage of opportunities as they come. The path ahead will be much more obvious.

Fiona Westwood