It's Not in the Report! 

by Vickie Bouffard

Leaders track performance with business intelligence, (BI) the collection and interpretation of raw data into meaningful and useful information. BI is the closest thing to a crystal ball!  It gives you insights into the future to help secure business success. This “forward-looking” perspective allows you to plan, for example, product offerings, production cycle times, or how a review of how your compliance violations are stacking up. 

Executives and business managers thirst for analytics, but many times it’s not in the report! Finding costly production issues many times requires you to data-mine, tabulate, and interpret your data to make sound data-driven decisions. When looking for production issues, you don’t even know what you specifically seek. Typically, you start with the symptoms and work back to the root cause. Begin by tracking the symptoms. Those symptoms will help you determine how significant the issue is, what is it costing the company, and if it persists. Also note the impact on the team, customers, and vendors. The key to this investigative process is you.

Step 1 – Follow the email trails!

One of the best ways to uncover symptoms is by taking note of your team’s email traffic! Email is often chosen as the framework for systemizing complaints when a rework is required. Because they initially think that there won’t be that many complaints, corporate leaders frequently devise a generic plan to “send an email.” Over time, this evolves to create a “snowball effect,” where multiple complaints are emailed to multiple people. These messages indicate a rework, stoppage, or delay for some reason. However, often no one can see the actual number of
emails sent between numerous colleagues, which minimizes the true scope of the issue. No one has the “big picture” perspective on the process. If it was just one person who received all the emails, that person might speak up to say, “Hey, I am getting a lot of emails about how many loan files we should rework for taxes and insurance.” Then again, that person may just ignore it. As a leader, take a closer look at production issues first by investigating the email inbox trends of your team.


Step 2 – Have candid conversations with your team.

Support phase two of your investigation by implementing intentional observation and conversation. Talk to the front line workers. What do they see and experience? Bring a note pad. They will have many insights, stories, and experiences that reports don’t provide. Ask questions – “where does production stop?” “For what reason?” No one likes to redo work.  Job satisfaction comes from completing the task, not repeating it. You will also benefit because you took the time to get to the root cause, and your team will feel heard and valued. 

Review the process of the overall system to notice how many “widgets” or “exceptions” there are.  Why do these anomalies exist? They were pulled off the production line for a reason.  Where or when did it get pulled off? How often does this happen? Who is impacted by this system detour? Does it provide a convenience for the customer or the team? As an example, missed closings and blown rate locks are costly financially and tarnish the company brand. To find the root cause of inefficiencies, you need to dig deeper, because it’s not in the report. 


Step 3 – Think outside the box…ahem “report.”

Companies track many metrics within their reporting systems. However, no matter how sophisticated, or expensive the system is, remember that you often need to reach beyond the report to find the clues to streamline your team’s productivity to financial success. Be prepared to data-mine, collect, and tabulate these metrics for yourself. Be willing to check inboxes, get out of your chair, observe the process, and have conversations with your team. Quickly you will notice that the key to your team’s success is not in the report; it begins with you! 


Go, Team, Go! Let's Run to the Finish Line!