The “Data Explosion” is requiring credit unions to allocate more time, effort and energy than ever before to manage their data. The growth and source (online and mobile) will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. The BI tool used by many community financial institutions is spreadsheets. Spreadsheets have served us well and will continue to be a great tool for use on your personal desktop. Where it falls short is trying to manage and analyze the volumes of member data and transactions at the Enterprise level.
How many Spreadsheets?
One of the rude awakenings for credit unions developing a BI strategy is the number of spreadsheets that are used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Generally, the estimates of spreadsheets in use are well below the actual number of spreadsheets maintained, and by a large number. Take a survey of your own credit union staff and it may surprise you the number of spreadsheets being used.
Once you have determined the number of spreadsheets in place, you can start calculating the hours expended on spreadsheet preparation. Some credit unions break this down by function or department to identify potential “quick wins” in their BI initiative. Something else that is usually discovered, some spreadsheets with similar information are duplicated across functions and departments. You will soon find out that the amount of resources on general reporting, greatly exceed any estimates that you may have predicted.
The process of manually gathering and entering data is not without risk. Input errors, wrong formulas, or duplication of records ultimately result in misleading information and bad decisions. Import and export functions certainly do not help with creating reliable data. With most institutions, the silos of data require data manipulation and compound the integrity of the reporting.
Reporting vs Analysis
A question that you should pose to your team is; how much time do you spend on reporting and how much time do you spend on analysis? Generally you will find that 70-80% of the time of those working with data (including managers) is spent on reporting and only 20-30% on analysis. Not only is this an internal issue, but this creates a competitive disadvantage to those organization that make data a strategic priority.
Delayed Decision Making
Many credit unions use spreadsheets to report on key measures and trends. Some credit unions say that certain reports are generated more than 10 days after the end of month. In some cases, these time consuming reports are not given that much attention since they are so dated. Old and stale data contributes to delayed decision making. Data driven organizations understand the importance of timely data and focus on gaining Insights. They understand the importance of data for improved measurement and ongoing accountability.