Building a Data-Driven Culture

By Jack Mitchell
Mar 20th 2018

Data-driven decision making: the reality

Data enables us to take risks out of decisions by confirming assumptions, as well as helping us to measure our progress. This data-driven approach has been a core driver of TotallyMoney’s success. However, we hit a few problems: i) One-dimensional reporting feeding into individual excel files. ii) Crude and varied SQL script-writing skills throughout the business. iii) Data Analysts working inefficiently in silos, often repeating work. These are common themes for many businesses where data is viewed as an administrative function to serve other teams. This creates issues with a huge backlog of questions to answer and many interpretations of the same data, which affect all parties involved: Data Analysts: work on a never-ending stream of obscure questions with no time to answer more valuable problems. Decision makers: are unable to make informed decisions with confidence, which means actions are taken slowly, with risk, or worse, not at all. The Business: wastes resource by repeating work and comparing interpretations of data. They won’t have the agility to answer questions quickly to make a big leap forward.  

Steps to build a data-driven culture

Many businesses pay lip service to having a data-driven culture. What they are really saying is that they validate their decisions with numbers. Such businesses will inevitably face the issues highlighted above unless they hire an army of analysts to do what is probably mundane work. To make strides towards building a data-driven culture, businesses need to do the following:  

  1. Create a Data Hub At TotallyMoney, this journey begun by creating a centralised data squad. This enabled us to start looking at our workflow. Ultimately, we prioritised work to change our reporting infrastructure to deliver as much value as we could upfront.
  2. Build the Network We partner with Looker, from which we built a reporting infrastructure that enables multi-dimensional analytics in one platform. This has allowed us to create reporting that has centralised truths; every query written by analysts is scalable (covered in detail here). More importantly, this broke down the silos of analysts and the excel reporting undertaken around the business.
  3. Co-create value, quickly We released the platform as early as we could in a pilot phase, recognising the majority of value would come through our colleagues creating and sharing new dashboards and looks. Fortunately, people at TotallyMoney love a challenge, so the uptake was rapid. Very soon the culture started spreading throughout the business, as evidenced in this post.

Data-Driven Culture TotallyMoney

Data-driven culture: a competitive advantage

The data capability at TotallyMoney is entering a stage where it can become even more proactive in driving value for both our customers and colleagues. Decision makers at all levels can self-serve their data and make better informed, faster decisions. Moreover, TotallyMoney is entering a very exciting stage where there are an increasing number of questions to answer and opportunities to take. The development of our data capability will be critical to ensure we can continue to take calculated risks and can deliver value quickly for our customers — before the competition does.