Three simple steps to smarter business decisions

Smarter business decisions
Smarter business decisions

We recently launched the ClicData Intelligent Business Index, an examination of how UK SMEs monitor, analyse and manage their business performance. As part of our research, we analysed how British businesses are approaching this fundamental question. The results were more significant that we had expected – incredibly, more than half (62%) of UK SMEs have no insight in to the true health of their business.

If a business leader bases their decisions upon either out of date or incorrect information, the negative impact upon a business’s growth could be huge. For example, they could be making financial decisions based upon figures that are no longer accurate

So, how can you make sure that this does not happen to you, or your business?

We have identified three fundamental tips that can set you off on the right path:

1. Adopt live, accessible reporting to ensure your business is making decisions based on up to date information

Our research found that 51% of businesses continue to rely upon traditional Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for reporting business performance indicators. Whilst these are a tried and tested tool that will form part of any business’s arsenal, the potential for human error here is huge: a single typo could completely change the results.

For this reason, modern real-time reporting platforms have emerged and intelligent businesses are adopting these tools. These take advantage of data streams - like APIs and other web services - to provide teams with self-updating reports and collaborative tools. Not only do these save time and resources, but also ensure accounts are as up to date as possible at the point of use..

2. Ensure the information is presented in an easily digestible form

In the UK, SMEs employ over 60% of the overall workforce and are responsible for generating close to 50% of the turnover of all private enterprises. At the same time, many of those tasked with reporting on business KPIs lack a thorough understanding of the information documented within these reports (34%), often inputting numbers from one month to the next without appreciating their true value or significance.

It is a major concern when such a significant element of our economy is making decisions based upon potentially inaccurate, outdated or poorly understood information. Therefore, it is vital that businesses ensure their reports are as easy to absorb and digest as possible.

This may seem like unnecessary aesthetical work, but it is essential if there is to be the confidence that decision makers are making truly informed decisions.

3. Ensure decision makers have full and easy access to this live information and ensure it’s regularly shared

Even when organisations are tracking performance ‘live’, there is a clear need to ensure reports are still readily shared internally. Only then can there be confidence that all relevant stakeholders in a business have the information they need to take appropriate action.

As businesses grown in size, there’s a tendency to abstract the management of business accounts away from the decision makers themselves. However, it’s essential that these stakeholders still have access to the complete data should they require it.

If not, the potential exists for underlying problems to be overlooked. The decision makers themselves are well placed to catch these and prevent much greater issues in the future, it’s therefore crucial that they have complete visibility of their business’s accounts.

By following these three tips, you can ensure your business’s decision making process is both intelligent and based on accurate data.