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The Official Baldrige Blog

Using Analytics to Improve Your Business


What benefit could come from organizations mastering the use of modern analytics, which is defined by James R. Evans as "the use of data, information technology, statistical analysis, quantitative methods, and mathematical or computer-based models to help managers gain improved insight about their business operations and make better, fact-based decisions"? 

Marketers use analytics to track your product interests, sports teams use analytics to determine strategy and what ticket prices you'll pay, and banks use analytics to predict and prevent credit fraud. But many organizations find themselves awash in data, including data coming from social media, and not able to effectively turn that data into something meaningful that they can use.

Two recent articles explore modern analytics and measurement and how the Baldrige Excellence Framework can help organizations make sense of data and prioritize which measurements to track.

In today's fast-paced, "analytics-driven environment," traditional management approaches are evolving, and "real-time data acquisition is becoming the norm," writes Evans in "Modern Analytics and the Future of Quality and Performance Excellence," a recent ASQ Quality Management Journal article.

Evans, a professor in the Department of Operations and Business Analytics in the College of Business at the University of Cincinnati, writes that the principles of analytics—"fact-based decisions as opposed to judgment and intuition, more prediction rather than reactive decisions, and the use of analytics by everyone at the point where decisions are made rather than relying on skilled experts"—have been reflected in the Baldrige Criteria for many years. The 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework notes the importance of data and analytics in the core value of management by fact and in its glossary definition of analysis. In addition, the Baldrige framework addresses "big data," strategy considerations for data, performance projections, performance measures, and future performance.

"Various research studies have discovered strong relationships between a company's performance in terms of profitability, revenue, and shareholder return and its use of analytics," writes Evans. "Thus, one would surmise that analytics is an essential component of higher-scoring Baldrige applicants."

Evans goes on to describe the effective use of data visualization (category 7 of the Baldrige Criteria), dashboards and scoreboards (used by many Baldrige recipients; see category 4 in the award application summaries of recipients), data mining (and its association with customer engagement; 3.2 of the Baldrige Criteria), and types of analysis.

In another recent article, this time from ASQ's Quality Progress, "To Measure Is to Know," Susan Leister and Suzanne Tran echo the importance of data: "An organization that wants to be 'in the know' about its performance—as well as proactive in process improvement—should develop, implement, and maintain a measurement and analysis program."

Such a program may be influenced by category 4, Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management, of the Baldrige Criteria, they write. "The category asks how your organization selects, gathers, analyzes, manages, and improves its data, information, and knowledge assets; how it learns; and how it manages information technology," the Criteria reads. "The category also asks how your organization uses review findings to improve its performance."

One benefit of a measurement and analysis program, write Leister and  Tran, is that it can provide management with a basis for factual decision making, which can provide an organization with an understanding of the value it is creating. "A well-crafted metrics program can help an organization make effective decisions and take appropriate actions," they write, and "remember: What gets measured usually gets fixed."

After implementation of a measurement and analysis program, Leister and Tran suggest organizations consider the questions in Are We Making Progress? and/or Are We Making Progress as Leaders?, free Baldrige downloadable tools, to assess their progress.

How could your organization use the Baldrige Criteria as a framework for or an assessment of analytics?

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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Baldrige 20/20 as one of the best sources of analytical data for anyone pursuing Baldrige. The trend data on the 256 measures the recipients tracked during the run-up period just prior to winning are very informative as to the upper, lower, and mean rates of improvement someone can expect to benchmark their relative rate of progress.

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