Don't Start The Year with A Reporting Relapse
January 12, 2021
Don't Start The Year with A Reporting Relapse

Don't Start The Year with a Reporting Relapse

Reporting. Woof. Early on in my career as a Strategy and Operations Leader, this was always something that I had mixed feelings about. 

Usually, it started with excitement for the chance to uncover opportunities within the business. Growth channels to be explored! Efficiencies to be put in place! There were endless opportunities to help the business scale in ways that might otherwise go unnoticed. But often this sense of excitement was followed by anxiousness over the never-ending cycle that reporting can so often turn into for any operations team.

There is no question that the process of analyzing data to better understand and communicate what has happened or will happen is essential to a business. However, reporting for the sake of reporting can be a crushing, time-consuming process.

‘I need this number for the board!’ 

Sound familiar? Hopefully the exclamation point is an excitable or cheerful shout of joy, but realistically it’s likely another member of your executive team putting together a powerpoint at the last minute for your upcoming board meeting. 

This type of ‘reporting’ isn’t healthy, and it’s not what we should be talking about. And look, I get it, those types of requests are always going to happen. 

But what if instead of being at the mercy of those last minute requests, we, as Strategy and Operations Leaders, controlled the narrative and communication proactively? 

Here are three ways to ensure you and your team aren’t falling into old habits as you start out in 2021. 

One-off reporting was never the way. 

If you are a Strategy and Operations Leader logging into multiple platforms, looking at dashboards across every department, and manually updating a spreadsheet, stop. There is a better way. 

While it might feel like you’re getting into the heart of the data by logging in and scouring through every different tool, the reality is there are a number of solutions that can automate this process for you. I tend to lean towards Elate as the best option, but I’m obviously biased. 

All kidding aside, you’re wasting time and probably using up a lot of quality passwords trying to keep tabs on all of your logins.

Create a Single Source of Truth!! (Sarcasm) 

It feels like every company that gets within 100 feet of touching data is using the tagline, ‘Create a Single Source of Truth!’ To be honest, we did too. Even if that phrase is overplayed, there is truth to it.

But for so many Strategy and Operations Leaders it is the losing battle they fight time and time again. Most companies start with a single spreadsheet that quickly turns into an ocean of sheets, while others stumble their way into clunky analytics tools. But neither actually solve the problem. 

Let’s just pretend that updating a spreadsheet wasn’t a mind-numbing process you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Or that analytics and dashboarding tools were even half as easy to use as they proclaim to be. 

The reality is even if you did enjoy using these tools, they only provide you with one piece of the puzzle. 

Data without context isn’t very helpful. And context without the supporting data is likely just an opinion. 

As Strategy and Operations Leaders, we should be focused on how we bring together the subjective narratives throughout our business and marry those with the objective data driving performance. 

This helps us prioritize the right conversations and focus on potential opportunities. 

Reporting with a Purpose.

Russell Lester, Head of Finance and Operations at Calendly, shares that his team has a simple mission statement that could hold true for all Operations teams.

“Create timely, accurate, relevant, and proactively persuasive insights that drive growth and efficiency and delight customers.” 

Now, that doesn’t sound like the mundane reporting requests we used to get right before a board meeting! 

If you are trying to reach this level of reporting out of spreadsheets or siloed dashboards, it won’t work. If you are trying to capture team updates without relevant data, it won’t work. 

Your reporting should help tell the story of your business and shape your future direction. To do so, you have to understand the complete picture. And while data plays a critical role in the story, you can’t forget about the context that brings the data to life. 

Here to Help.

But if you, like so many of the companies we work with, are now thinking to yourself, ‘This sounds great, but how in the world am I going to implement something like this with limited resources and team members?’ We’re here to help. 

Supercharge your Ops team by joining the countless software companies who rely on Elate’s all-in-one Ops platform to drive growth.