September 12, 2017

3 Ways to Build a Data-Driven Culture

3 Ways to Build a Data-Driven Culture

If you’re like many association professionals I talk to, you know data is the key to measuring the progress of your programs and spotting opportunities for improvement. You’re just struggling with the “how.”

How can you find enough time to collect and analyze all that information? How can you get your executive director, who’s even busier than you are, on board with the right tools?

The solution starts with your culture—namely, turning your organization into a place where everyone lives, eats and breathes metrics and accountability. Shifting to a data-driven culture takes some work, but it pays off. Here are three steps for getting started.

1. Incorporate data into overall strategy

At the ASAE annual meeting, we asked association CEOs to name their biggest pain points in adopting a business intelligence solution. At the top of the list: “Lack of a data strategy.”

As the old adage goes: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” A long-term data strategy gives you the metrics you need to up your management game.

Think of your data strategy as the first essential planks in a bridge between the status quo and a stronger, better organization. You’ll need this data to gauge how well you’re doing against your goals and keep everybody on the same page in terms of organizational performance.

You can start by defining what stronger and better mean for your organization, asking big-picture questions like:

  • What should our organization look like one, five or 10 years from now?
  • How many members will we have? How engaged are they?
  • What yearly targets do we want to hit for dues and non-dues revenue?
  • From here, each department can develop quantifiable targets tied to your overall vision.

    2. Engage the whole organization

    Everyone needs to believe that data matters and that they play an integral role in the analytics process. As you create your action plan, ask individual department managers for their long and short-term objectives. Then work together to create meaningful metrics.

    In your membership department, for example, this might mean tracking monthly member acquisitions as a percentage of yearly goals. Such a metric quickly tells staff just how far they have to go to reach their target and if they need to adjust their tactics.

    Working collaboratively shows the entire staff how important their data is to the big picture. Marketing, events, recruitment, retention—all efforts feed into a greater whole.

    3. Embrace accountability, starting at the top

    This reinforcement is important, because metrics make people accountable for their actions and decisions. Fair warning: Not everyone will embrace a data-driven culture with open arms.

    Take paired metrics, for example—using two complementary metrics to evaluate performance in a given area. Paired metrics guard against bad behavior—like the manipulation of one metric at the expense of the other—and strengthen organizational performance.

    That’s why it’s so important for executive leaders to evangelize data’s importance from the top, through periodic check-ins, team meetings, progress dashboards and open discussions on how to bypass roadblocks standing in the way of success.

    Finding your data solution

    Cultural change is a big deal—too big to cover fully in one blog post. However, these few tips can help you build a culture that’s driven by—and thrives on—data. And you’ll move closer to an analytics solution that delivers game-changing visual insights into your association.

    And as you engage staff organization-wide, you’ll learn valuable details about requirements for your business intelligence systems. They’ll tell you the metrics they want to track—from email opens and clicks to lifetime member value—and if they’ll need to import data from another system, like an AMS. You’ll also get insight into dashboards and graphs, which will help you visualize your data.

    Meanwhile, staff will get a glimpse of how tracking, analyzing and sharing information will make them more effective in their jobs. Before you know it, you’ve reinforced the value of a data-driven culture.

    We're introducing MemberSuite Insights on September 27th & you're invited!


    Calling any and all association professionals that are looking to become truly data-driven. This September, MemberSuite is inviting you to our webinar to introduce Insights, our new analytics platform.

    Join us on September 27th at 2:30pm (ET).