Don't miss the forest for the trees: How Can SaaS Leaders See Past Limited Data?

Praveen Rajaretnam
Foresight
February 7, 2022
8 min read

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Soul of a New Machine, Tracy Kidder chronicles the tale of Tom West, a lead engineer at Data General Corporation, who convinces the management that he can build a new microcomputer within a year—a timeline unheard of in those days. 

Incredibly, West’s team delivers the next-generation machine ahead of schedule. And they do it with a team of 15 inexperienced engineers—some of them right out of college, working 12-hour days without overtime pay.

The lesson? When everyone in an organization aligns around shared objectives, they are more likely to make the most optimal decisions that are aligned to those objectives resulting in faster execution and higher business impact. It also acts as a much more powerful motive than financial benefits. 

In this article, we explore the causes that lead to decisions that aren’t optimized for maximum business impact. Then, we lay out what increases organizational buy-in and aligns stakeholders to the company’s strategic business goals. 

How decision-making typically happens in SaaS companies

Most planning, both at the corporate and department levels, is often done on spreadsheets. Further, each department uses a different tool to track its metrics resulting in siloed data. 

These spreadsheets are passed up and down the hierarchy over email or Slack, making it challenging to collaborate and get the needed visibility across teams on data and plans.

The time-intensive nature of planning and forecasting on spreadsheets often results in having to make trade-offs between the depth of analysis required and the quality of decision-making. 

For example, answering questions such as “which campaigns to double-down on?” or “which regions and market segments to prioritize next quarter” requires collecting and analyzing data on spreadsheets, and then simulating a broad range of scenarios—a tedious and complex process on spreadsheets. Given the paucity of time, stakeholders often limit analysis to those scenarios that they have a stake in or those that back their preferred strategy. 

Invariably, the lack of time and resources prevents a thorough and objective analysis limiting the value of any insights gleaned from it. 

This results in decision-making paralysis closer to deadlines, and stakeholders choose the strategy that appears best with the limited data and analysis -- the local optimum -- as opposed to finding the best option -- the global optimum

Without the complete picture, it's difficult to make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire organization. Teams look at achieving their own goals rather than optimizing for the company’s success. 

All of this cripples the decision-making process.

Enabling decision-making aligned to the strategic objectives

Don't miss the forest for the trees
  • Share KPIs company-wide: Ensure to align key performance indicators (KPIs) to your business objectives and share them across the organization. 
  • Automate and centralize the data aggregation process. This ensures your team has more time and resources to do strategic analysis than manual data-entry work. Ensure to aggregate only relevant data that helps understand business performance. Amassing unactionable, incomplete or inaccurate data can become a cause for analysis paralysis.
  • Involve all departments and levels during planning. Encouraging different perspectives can help employees not limit their thinking and consider more possible outcomes by planning for multiple scenarios and challenging assumptions. This ensures sufficient analysis and discussion on the insights shared by various teams and makes it harder to explain away data that favors specific stakeholders or departments.
  • Choose the highest-impact business direction that ideally has the buy-in from all your key stakeholders. This requires shifting to a continuous planning process and adopting a rolling 12-month plan.

Improve speed to decision with Drivetrain

Drivetrain offers a powerful collaborative platform backed by an experienced team that works with you to implement a planning, monitoring and decision-making solution to achieve your strategic business goals.

  • Keep your data in one place: Drivetrain provides secure and accurate data collection across a wide range of data sources, including Netsuite, Salesforce, Zuora, Bamboo HR and many other ERP, CRM, HRIS, BI systems, databases and analytics tools. It also provides additional methods to connect your data sources such as Google sheets, CSV uploads, via API calls and more. This gives you a single source of truth while ensuring data consistency and data privacy.
  • Collaboration: Drivetrain enables continuous planning and rolling forecasts. It also supports multiple roles improving collaboration to support informed, confident, rapid decision-making.
  • Analysis and foresight: Transition from reactive to proactive and predictive planning with Drivetrain’s built-in root-cause analysis tool to understand variances and identify bottlenecks to growth. Run What-If scenarios in minutes to understand the impact of events and decisions, enabling you to identify and react to risks and opportunities.

To learn more about how Drivetrain can help your organization scale your business growth with collaborative and connected planning, reach out to us at learn@drivetrain.ai to schedule a free demonstration.

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