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Data & Analytics

4 minute read

Monthly Business Reviews Spark Powerful Conversations and Drive Action

Jun 22, 2020

Written by: Hanna Turner

Taking the time to look at where you’ve been and where you want to be headed can ensure you chart the right course going forward.

A well-orchestrated, data-driven MBR gives you a bird’s eye view of your business with targeted internal and external 

measurements. Across any industry, its near-real-time data can help ground strategic conversations about future steps for your business. However, that benefit only comes if you:

  1. Commit to learning and acting. An MBR opens windows on ways to work better or change course, based on solid information on the things that are most important. Don’t waste company energy and resources if all you’re doing is simply checking a box.
  2. Engage leaders across your business. MBRs can carry a heavy load, driving organizational alignment on shared goals. The more leaders know about other divisions, the more they’ll care about the whole business and work together.

Every organization – no matter the size – can benefit from this calculated moment to stop, review, assess and adjust. Focus on your company’s need for this review, identify what data delivers that, and figure out how to best present your results. The most important element of your MBR is that each cycle culminates with a robust conversation among decision-makers, creating a purposeful opportunity to come together and take smart action.

Leadership Drives What an MBR Reports

Any MBR worth its weight is designed and built specifically to the organization. Sit down and have a frank conversation with your leaders to explore what they need, clarify that that’s what they really need, and determine what they want to get out of this ongoing experience.

Be diligent about selecting information that tells the full story of your organization. Work with leaders across the organization to identify the top metrics needed to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of each area and ensure they align with the information presented in the MBR. You want the conversations to be focused on driving business improvements – not on whether the right information is being shared or whether it’s accurate.

Ultimately, the metrics you select should allow leaders to interpret results based on performance, external impacts and environmental conditions. That doesn’t mean you should pick hundreds of metrics. Put only the most critical metrics in your MBR  –perhaps only a dozen or so indicators for each business area. When you review results and find something that seems off, that’s when to dig into additional metrics to get context and uncover the story behind performance.

Setting Up a System that Delivers

Your MBR is only as good as the quality of your inputs, which should be authorized data with controls and governance to keep it accurate. Integrity in your data translates to the integrity of your recommendations. Data selected should match your MBR’s intent and be collected promptly. If getting the right information means a one-month lag on one metric, advise your leaders and work to identify ways to get that data faster. Waiting to deliver an MBR for a few metrics can mean lost time for making adjustments: Timeliness matters.

Identifying data is only part of the task. The reporting should present expected performance markers so leaders can single out successes or potential risks. This allows the leadership team to quickly assess which areas of the business need additional focus.

Once you have a general process in place, running a pilot MBR with trusted leaders generates great feedback to refine your report – but don’t obsess over pre-launch perfection. You want to start with a solid MBR that will continue to evolve and generate buy-in, not cynicism or skepticism. Besides, businesses grow and change all the time, and so should your MBR.

For most organizations, a monthly review is the appropriate cadence, knowing that daily doesn’t offer enough data for identifying trends and opportunities.

Influencing Better Business Conversations

The heart of the MBR is the conversation it ignites.

Ideally, leadership meetings should take place within days of completing your MBR, so data is fresh. Even with overloaded schedules, your decision-makers need to hold this sacred meeting slot. Delay it a week, another week, maybe a third, and you’ve lost the value of that MBR.

We recommend engaging a separate leader and facilitator, who could be internal or external to your team, to run your meetings. This leader keeps the discussion positive while pushing and probing for details. The facilitator keeps the meeting on track and handles tactical elements, such as detailing offline assignments.

With leaders in the same place, focused on the same set of data, organizations create the opportunity for truly impactful conversations with the necessary context from both the report and their daily experiences to drive thoughtful decision-making. It’s an opportunity to look back, assess decision-making and determine if the learnings could be applied elsewhere in the organization. It’s also an opportunity to look ahead and think about how you would approach these decisions in the future: Is COVID-19 impacting us more than we thought? Do we need to hire in order to handle expected call volume increases in Collections?

If you look at five parts of your business and all but one is trending green, devote extended time and energy during this session to uncover the story behind the one in red. Maybe you see customer contacts have gone down in collections, but you need to find out whether that was a result of a positive strategic change – perhaps a push to digital service –or an environmental change, such as job losses from COVID-19. Assign an analyst to dig into supporting data for answers. If immediate action is needed, that information should be shared with leadership to drive change, but, either way, the insights should be shared in the next review to inform everyone what was found.

Initially, you should review what went well and what was missing every month. As your process matures, that can become a quarterly assessment. Business needs change – as do external market conditions – and your MBR needs to keep up.

And while it’s natural to focus on opportunities to adapt, eliminate and augment work based on your monthly review, never overlook the moments to celebrate your successes. After all, effective MBRs shape informed decisions that generate even more wins.

Make sure your MBR is designed for what you need – including key metrics that provide the critical insights to drive your business. Our team can guide your business teams in developing MBRs that help you identify opportunities, respond smartly to root issues and continue moving toward your strategic goals.