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better decisions

Get better information, so you can make better decisions

No doubt you’ve heard of the old adage, which is sometimes framed as a cautionary tale, that: “What gets measured gets done.” As in, be careful what you measure as it will be the major focus of effort and possibly not some other more important thing. After all, some organizations struggle to change the information they gather and measure, and this undermines their short- and long-term decisions.

Since MB&A opened its doors in 2013, we’ve been guided by the power of data, measurement, and workable information. We built ExAM to enhance data collection and improve decision making through our Form Builder, Distribution Wizard, Workflows and Analytic capabilities. We also recognized that the information required to make those decisions would be better understood over time. A part of that power is ExAM’s flexibility, agility, and nimbleness to respond to evolving needs and improve outcomes over time. It’s no accident that the “E” in ExAM stands for “extensible.”

During the build phase, our goal was to create a tool that would help leadership and executive teams in complex, dynamic, and evolving workplaces to make better decisions. Early on, we recognized that the challenges they faced were varied and often systemic, but tended to take one of three forms:

  1. Decisions are made based on the available information. Generally speaking, today’s decisions are informed by the data leaders required when the appropriate decision support system was built. The reality is that these often don’t keep pace with the information that is actually required to make today’s decision.
  2. Decisions are made based on the information that’s available right now. Data calls at scale are hard to come up with and, understandably though not ideally, decisions are then made prematurely. This is due, in part, to the fact that it’s hard to gather data from a diverse stakeholder community using spreadsheets and other non-standardized tools.
  3. Decisions are made with poor quality data. The methods that are used to gather data that isn’t already in a decision support system drive non-standard processes and reporting. Spreadsheets, emails, and documents result in a lack of conformity and coherence, just as they make scoring and other mechanisms that could be used for standardized quality approaches difficult to attain.

Addressing these flaws calls for a repeatable process and underlying automation to make the decision-making system consistent, accurate, and workable for the entire team. Quite simply, organizations should approach decision-making as a key capability and leverage the following 5-step framework to do so:

  1. Define the decision that needs to be made. Define both the decision that needs to be made and its overall value proposition. For example, as a manager I want to be able to determine who should be assigned to a project based on their relevant knowledge and skills, as well as their availability and workload. In this way, I can match the right resource to the task.
  2. Define the data you need to support a specific decision. In the example above, there’s likely a corporate system that offers some of the information that’s needed to make the decision, including availability and workload. However, let’s say that in this case the knowledge part is dependent on highly variable customer requirements. ExAM empowers you to create and extend an assessment to get the full scope of an activity. We do this all the time in-house, as we look to match customer implementation requirements with scoping our resources to meet the demand.
  3. Gather the data you need and manage the process used to gather it. A key element in making good decisions is having the right information at the right time. ExAM not only allows you to easily extend the scope of the information you gather, by adding questions or options, it enables you to manage the data collection process itself. This includes understanding how many people have responded to the data collection, to how many questions have been answered, etc so that you can understand where you are in relation to having all the information you need to arrive at a final decision.
  4. Evaluate the data you gather. ExAM lets you build scoring models to gauge answers to questions that can then be used to drive decision making frameworks. In our use case, we might use scoring to help us understand not only the types of resources we need, but how many staff members and sprints we’ll require.
  5. Ensure your decision-making process is automated, repeatable, and open to evaluation. You can bring data into Salesforce through ExAM to make the decision- making process open, accountable, and subject to evolution. ExAM enables you do this in a couple of key ways. First, our “assess anything” technology helps you to gather information in a way that relates it directly to the Salesforce object it pertains to (i.e., project, case, or account), streamlining reporting and automating business processes. Second, our “field mapping” technology pulls the answers stored in ExAM and maps their values and scores directly into the Salesforce records they describe, enabling easy automation

This 5-step process offers a robust decision-making approach that is not only repeatable, but enables explicit review and extensibility that improves decision making over time. If you discover that you don’t have all the information you need, ExAM makes it easy to add answers to questions, add new questions, or update the scoring model. The combination of the right approach and right technology arms you with the right information to make the right decision at the right time.

Interested in learning more? Check out:

  • ExAM4Enterprise.com – revolutionizing how organization’s gather information in surveys, forms and data calls. Getting information out of people’s heads and into Salesforce online, offline and wherever people happen to be.
  • ExAM4Inspections.com – changing the way people provide service in the field and manage compliance and audit.
  • mbaoutcome.com – we build products that change the how organizations leverage Salesforce. Getter better information and make better decisions.
  • Contact us at info@mbaoutcome.com.

About the Author

Joshua Millsapps is the Managing Partner of MB&A. He writes about organizational performance, making better decision and how technology can change the word for the better. Catch up with him on twitter @jmillsapps

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