Data-driven decision-making is vital at all levels of business today. But collating, analyzing, and interpreting data doesn’t come easily to all of us. What can help: investing in the right data tools and training to get your team up to speed and growing stronger with data.

Let’s look at some of the tools, courses, and exercises that can help everyone get started.

Tool: data plots

Ever wondered whether weather conditions impact absenteeism? Or whether the new stand-up meetings are leading to more milestones being met on time? When you want to explore patterns that might be associated with each other, Thomas C. Redman recommends plotting the data. Collect your data over a period of three months and then plot them to examine the correlations. Some correlations may have an obvious causal relationship, but others might need you to review other data points further to better understand the reasons behind a correlation.

Exercise: correlation or causation? A decision diagram to assess

BCG’s David Ritter helps managers solve a key problem – how do you decide when to act upon a data point? His diagram makes it easier to take a call; when you notice frequent correlations with apparent causation, it’s better to take action. However, at the other end of the spectrum, when the correlation is less frequent and the causation is not that apparent, it is best to wait and collect more data.

Tool: data visualization

While realms of data can be easy to navigate for data scientists, visualizations can help you see patterns and insights, and understand the stories your data can tell. Besides, presenting data in a persuasive manner will make it easier to build a case at a meeting. LiftedViz CTO John Bremer offers some data visualization best practices that help you understand the audience you are connecting with and communicate your data with impact, particularly with tools like Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, and Sisense.

Tool: business dashboard

As you get more proficient with data, you’ll need tools to help you leverage the information at your fingertips and make more insight-driven decisions. Healthcare operations expert Christina Andrews makes a few recommendations to build a business intelligence dashboard that can help ease operational tasks. Your typical data visualization tools can help you build a dashboard, and Coursera has a few suggestions here.

Final note: learning and training

Your team’s data literacy skills definitely get a boost with practical projects and best practices, but sometimes the defined milestones of an educational program could bring more structure and rigor to their learning goals. A course that looks at data science from end to end could help. PwC and Coursera also have a specialization to help with data-led analysis and decision-making. Equipped with these tools and skills, the team could work together to put data to work for them.

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