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Agile decision making is more than just “BI”

June 26, 2018
Picture of Dan Naselius

Written by Dan Naselius

President, Coras

In just about every board room, senior leaders keep a pulse on the business through a set of visual dashboards.   These dashboards are typically created through aggregating data from various systems and doing some “analysis” on the data and matching it with a visualization.  This allows everyone to see where things are at and the trends over time.   All of this is good, assuming that the data is clean, kept up to date, and consistent across the various data sources.  The challenge is that this only addresses a part of the need that many leaders have.  It doesn’t give them the ability to “ask questions” or to look at multiple scenarios and how different decisions would result in different outcomes.  To do this they must ask the “data guy/gal” to go and crunch numbers and give them answers, which takes time of course, and often the need for the request has already passed by the time they get the answer.  This is no surprise, because with current practices there is a lot of back and forth between decision maker and the data gatherers to get the right information.

Enter CORAS' concept of moving from a simple BI Dashboard to a Decision Support board.  The goal with a Decision Support approach is to paint a picture that leaders understand because it is specific to their business and that will allow the leaders to turn knobs and pull levers themselves to get answers.  Working with a DoD customer we learned that they often have to make tradeoff decisions about how many of each type of system they could purchase based on budget.  What if they could lean on the contractor to get a better price?  What if they bought less or more of a certain item?  In the DoD, maybe they could buy less tanks and planes and add a new ship?  By being able to simply “ask” with the click of a button to add, subtract, adjust discounts, etc. they can get the answers immediately.  They also can try several different scenarios and look at the results.  Each scenario can be saved to compare their different choices.   The result, they know they are making the right call based on all available options.  Now this is the definition of agile decision making!