Acting on Yesterday's Data? 3 Steps for Moving to Real-Time Reporting

ChelseaWilliams
By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Mar 1 2023 read
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If your business were your friend, would you be able to find out how it’s doing right now?

Your instinct may be to say you know this friend better than any other, given that you work with them every day. Unfortunately, that won’t be true if your reporting practices are like those of the average business owner. The nature of how you report could mean you see updates about the state of your business as you would a friend’s social media posts — hours or days later.

Like many work responsibilities, reporting becomes a habit. When your habit is to look to the past for insights, your business’s efficiency and profitability may be at risk.

The Problem With Lagging Metrics

Traditional reporting that’s limited by time leaves you at least a day behind and never quite sure about what’s happening right now. It’s helpful to have historical records of business performance for identifying trends about your clients and opportunities to optimize productivity, but an outdated source of information can only support short-term decisions. 

The moves you make based on how you were doing last year, last month or last week will be irrelevant tomorrow.

Lagging metrics could keep you in corrective mode, attempting to fix problems that have since changed and overlooking waste and inefficiency. 

At the same time, the availability of better reporting technology means your competitors may have already transitioned to real-time data. They could be inching forward almost invisibly and pulling out ahead before you know it. It’s time you had the same advantage.

What Happens When You Get Access to Real-Time Data

Knowing today’s numbers is beneficial in countless ways.

With real-time data, you’ll be:

  • Able to give more accurate and meaningful updates to clients.
  • More confident in your decisions about hiring, costs, software investments, etc.
  • Capable of detecting potential problems with projects sooner.
  • Prepared to accurately forecast workload weeks and months in advance.
  • Ready to regularly hit — or exceed — your revenue targets.
 

80% of businesses experience increased revenue after implementing real-time analytics.

 

Having up-to-date metrics available at any time opens up the potential for new kinds of insights that support real results. Here are a few examples of service businesses that put real-time data into action:

  1. Full-service CPA firm HeimLantz overcame historical report limitations by replacing static spreadsheets with Accelo’s live report links.
  2. Human capital software company Tambla relied on utilization data in Accelo to increase efficiency and accurately forecast upcoming work, ultimately doubling its revenue.
  3. DesignWorks Group, a full-service digital agency, used Accelo’s insights to identify underquoted clients. Adjusting rates accordingly helped them pull through the pandemic. 

How To Make the Transition

Moving away from habitual methods of reporting and toward a real-time approach can be a smooth process when you follow three simple steps.

1. Audit your current reporting practices.

If you have more than one person in charge of reporting, it’s important to help everyone kick the bad habit of relying on historical data. 

What are your current reporting workflows like? What kinds of conversations are taking place to extract meaning from your data? Take note of new or adjusted responsibilities you’ll want to communicate.

2. Implement technology that auto-generates real-time insights.

Choose a business intelligence tool that’s powerful enough to pull current data about your sales, projects, tasks, tickets, billing and more into easy-to-read dashboards. In researching BI options, you’ll find that many require multiple integrations to achieve this. 

The more consolidated and automated your software, the lower your costs and the less complicated your reporting will be. A client work management platform like Accelo is a cost-effective solution.

3. Train your team on amended expectations.

Use any holes in workflows or missing elements of analysis you noted in step one to build out a training protocol. Especially if you’ve been simply exporting data and saving it month after month, there’s likely to be more you’re expecting of your leaders once they have access to current reports.

You’ll also want to consider using your chosen software platform’s implementation services to ensure your entire team knows how to input data accurately and support your real-time reporting goals.

Ready To Know Today’s Numbers?

Breaking old patterns can be an intimidating process. Even if you know doing so could result in fewer errors, greater efficiency and more money, you might be reluctant to make a big commitment to the software that could take you there.

We’re here to help you fight the fears that could be keeping you from achieving real-time data — and big-time results. Utilize advanced reporting tools to predict revenue, forecast profits and feel confident about your data-driven decisions. 

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About the Author

ChelseaWilliams

Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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