But will you DO anything with that data?

But will you DO anything with that data?

I frequently exhort my clients to always answer the question "What will you do with that information?" when they talk about collecting new data or creating new reports, queries, and dashboards. Because it's "easy" to do these things, we often want to collect or report on data without thinking through the value of that information.

Two recent examples from clients:

  • Client one was working on implementing a new AMS and was reviewing their member engagement scoring. As they reviewed the long list of data points they were considering for measuring engagement, the chief of staff wisely pointed out that many of the data points being scored would not materially affect the total engagement score of any member. In other words, they were tracking and scoring data that wouldn't change how the association interacted with the member. And so the association decided not to track and score any of those data points that would have little or no overall impact on the final score.
  • Client two was working on implementing a new AMS and was discussing the different types of dashboards that they would like the system to present to users. One dashboard under consideration was a current count of members. Given that this client was a trade association where the number of new members every year was less than two dozen, and the number of dropped members was also less than two dozen, I asked the question: "By having that information on a dashboard, what would you do differently than if you just had a report you could run when needed?" After some discussion it was determined that a simple membership report that could be executed on demand would suffice; a dashboard was unnecessary.

In both cases, the request was not unreasonable. But after some discussion, it was clear that the request wouldn't provide any additional value.

Note in the first case the decision was to simply not score the data. They chose to do nothing.

In the second case, the data itself was valuable, but it wasn't necessary to present the data in a dashboard (which is more expensive to create than a simple report).

So as you make decisions about what data to collect and manage, or how you report that data, always ask, "What will you DO with that information?"

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