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The Data Everything Drawer 
111022 MPF Blog DataDrawer BLOG

The Data Everything Drawer 

By Alex Ryan

When I was a kid, like most of you I’m sure, we had what we called an everything drawer in our house. Usually in the kitchen, this drawer lived up to its name by housing everything from scissors to batteries and even included the occasional koozie. As time has passed, and technology has improved, we’ve created other drawers. One glance at my phone proves that. I can unlock it to check my email only to find that I’ve done everything but that after 30 minutes.  

It turns out that the data world has an everything drawer too, and if C-Suite executives aren’t careful, it can cause them to get distracted and lose track of what’s important. The fact is most of the contents in the drawer, whether they be digital or physical, are useful; but very few are vital. When we allow ourselves to get distracted by the noise, we become less efficient at best and make careless critical mistakes at worst. So, what actionable steps can a CEO, project manager or leader take to prevent this from happening? 

Understand the Background 

Start by understanding the background, bio and important elements of your campaign. I know this one doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with numbers, but trust me. You’ll be glad that you took the time to do this. By understanding where your campaign has come from, where you are now and where you want to go, you will develop a better strategy and focus your attention when it comes to metrics. 

Develop and Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

You’ll want to make sure that you don’t go too crazy on this one. Choose three to five KPIs and limit it to those because, if you’re not careful, you will start creating your everything drawer instead. A good practice is to write out the main goals of the campaign. Then write down the steps it will take to get there. I like to start from the end and work backward. As you do this, you will probably notice that a funnel begins to develop.  

Here’s an example: A property management company has acquired a new property and needs to increase occupancy to be successful. So, let’s start with the end goal – “move-in.” The step that comes before move-ins could be deposits, and the step before that could be walkthroughs or tours. This can go all the way back to when that individual was just a lead or prospect, or even to the moment that person clicked on your ad online.  

Now that we know the steps, we can start tracking them numerically week by week, month by month, year by year, etc. While that’s a great set of metrics to keep track of, does it really give us the optimal information for performance? I would argue that a better metric to keep track of is the conversion rates in between (i.e., tour to move-in rate, ad click to online form submission rate, etc.). These summary statistics allow you to track performance and show you where the fall-off is happening and where improvements can be made.  

Seek Wise Counsel and Trust It 

Lastly, make sure that, as the leader of your company, you are not only staying efficient but seeking counsel from your data team and fostering a healthy data culture. It’s impossible to know everything, and it is certainly not feasible to monitor it all. Leave that to your team of data professionals, and let them inform and guide you on what is happening. For regular updates, focus on the KPIs you have set, and when something needs to be addressed, go to your data investigators with the task. Most of all, trust your team, stay humble, and admit when a strategy might need to be tweaked based on the information you’ve obtained from the data and your team.  

In short, it’s easy to dive into every metric that is available to you; but it’s hardly helpful. Ultimately, you will get distracted from your main goal, and those potential mistakes could prove critical to your success or failure. Develop your KPIs and concentrate on those by monitoring them regularly and comparing them to industry benchmarks and past performance. Some platforms, like Tableau, offer notifications when a KPI drops below a certain level. Should something change for the better or worse, let your data team do the investigating and offer suggestions. These steps will allow you to stay focused, foster a supportive data culture and environment, and ultimately lead to more success.