Spring Clean Your Demand Intelligence Reports

At first blush, spring-cleaning your weekly demand intelligence reports may seem like more work than it's worth. But think again — by eliminating data clutter from your weekly reports you can actually save yourself time, get a better look at the data that's most important to growing your business and get out of the rut that data-by-rote can get you into. After all, a little simplicity goes a long way in making data insights crystal clear.

I see this all the time when I meet with clients. We sit down and look at their deck of weekly reports. Then I ask them how they use the report. That question is an eye-opener. In short time, they realize they're only keying in on three metrics and have a weekly information overload on their hands.

Let's say you have a deck of 20 reports that are shared with your team each week. The data collected in each of those reports gets bigger and bigger every time a new team member joins and contributes a new idea, the economy changes direction or the business changes. While it's critical to add those new perspectives as needed, it's just as important to eliminate the old perspectives — the clutter — as well. Stale, non-value added reporting makes your team sluggish and prevents you from sensing critical shifts in demand. Who, when faced with an inch-thick stack of reports, is eager to jump in?

Before you start eliminating metrics, be sure that multiple perspectives are taken into account. Make sure that each function has what is needed to drive the business. Conversation is key. Get the team together and open the floor to discussing what data they think is valuable, what isn't, and what they'd like to see. Let every member of the team speak to this: "Are we tracking metrics that are key to our business? And are we looking at them in the most efficient way?" Have the team identify five key reports. Then customize them to suit the team's needs.

As an example, in the past, chain-level data was used to drive CPG strategy. Now, however,  retailers have developed store personas and look to localize their assortments based on demographics. Full-chain distribution is becoming a rarity. Whereas in the past "total sales" allowed you to compare apples to apples, now total sales data can be misleading — you need to look at sales per store per week so that the item that's only carried in 50 stores doesn't look like an underperformer as compared to the item that's carried in 300 stores.

At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself who you are serving — the consumer! If it feels more like you're serving the monster that is your weekly reporting process, something needs to change.

Spring cleaning isn't the greatest motivator. But a weekly three-page report filled with exactly the data you need certainly is. Streamline. Simplify. Tailor your reports.