Does being data-driven result in better decision-making and performance results?
That was a question we asked Allan Willie, co-founder and CEO of Klipfolio which is enabling thousands of companies to do just that through the dashboards they enable.
What are the primary challenges with data-driven decision-making? It starts with the data quality going into the metrics used for decisions. Once the quality, integrity, and even amount of data can drive statistically significant insights, it's important not to go crazy and become the victim of "data overload".
Next, we discussed who uses the source data from tools and processes to help analyze the data and then make decisions. At Klipfolio, that is the role of business operations. Other functional operational functions, such as Marketing Operations, manage the data that flows into/out of the marketing automation system and the logic utilized within the platform.
Every functional operations team needs to become data quality stewards, but may not be the function that analyzes what the data is saying. Often, business operations or financial operations may be the penultimate operations function that uses the data to help form data-driven decisions and strategies.
What metrics are most important for an early-stage SaaS company to capture? Product Market Fit is the first and ONLY goal early on. How to measure product market fit? One is to measure how often a user comes back to use your product; another is to have a proactive outreach strategy to speak directly with the customers. The second category is to introduce growth metrics such as CARR growth, Revenue Growth, and Gross/Net Dollar Retention. Then in the third category come the efficiency metrics that guide profitable growth, such as CAC Payback Period and Customer Lifetime Value to CAC Ratio.
Curiosity is a central theme in fostering a data-driven culture. Almost every point solution has basic analytics and reporting capability, and when coupled with excel, most early-stage companies can become data-driven. This approach will limit visualization and the ability to scale but is a great start to a data-driven, metrics-informed decision-making journey.
How to ensure the data and metrics being captured are being used to make decisions? Allan highlighted it is very common to introduce metrics that may not stick. Identify those that provide the most insights and have predictive capabilities, and think about getting rid of the less. To scale, having a strategic area of focus for a specific time period that the entire company rallies around is a great way to create a data-driven culture. As an example, maybe for a quarter or two the whole company focuses on a specific category, like Customer Acquisition and identify the top opportunities for improvement as highlighted by the associated metrics, and implement the enhancements (process and/or organizational) before moving to the next strategic area of data-driven, metrics-informed" opportunity.
If you are in a business with less < $50M ARR, the discussion with Allan provides many thought-provoking ideas and insights into creating a data-driven culture that translates into accelerated company success.