Industrial Automation Companies

The Sound of Automation: Data-Driven Cultures

Posted on December 15, 2021 by

Clayton & Mckervey

Clayton & McKervey

Share This

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

The Sound of Automation

In this episode, we talk about the importance of building a data-driven culture. Clayton & McKervey Consulting Manager Elly Mioduszewski shares advice for analyzing your existing systems, implementing new processes, and using data to drive efficiencies and growth across your organization.

Podcast Transcript:

Announcer:

Welcome to the Sound of Automation, brought to you by Clayton and McKervey, CPAs for growth driven businesses.

Denise Asker, Director of Mkt. & Practice Growth:

Hi Bryan.

Bryan Powrozek, Sr. Manager Industrial Automation:

How are you doing?

Denise Asker:

Good to see you.

Bryan Powrozek:

It’s good to see you as well.

Denise Asker:

Yeah, I understand we have Elly in the house today.

Bryan Powrozek:

Yes, we do.

Denise Asker:

Yeah. Will you help me out? Will you say her last name please?

Bryan Powrozek:

Mioduszewski.

Denise Asker:

Mioduszewski. All right. I got to commit that one to memory. Elly does a million things. I’ve gotten to know her a little bit and it sounds like today you’re going to be talking around data analytics and maybe educating us a little bit on the phrase digital advisory.

Bryan Powrozek:

Yes.

Denise Asker:

Help me and our listeners understand where you’re taking the conversation.

Bryan Powrozek:

Yeah. Elly works in our digital advisory team at Clayton McKervey, which can encompass a lot of different things. Everything from implementing ERP systems, dashboard and KPIs, those types of things. The conversation today is really focused on that key performance metric area and really not so much identifying them, but how do you implement that culture of being a data driven organization and finding what are the things that drive my business? How do I track them? How do I put some systems in place that help me do that with minimal effort, as opposed to having to update an Excel spreadsheet every day to see where you’re at, finding the systems that’ll help you do that, real time.

Denise Asker:

No, that makes sense. That’ll be a good conversation.

Bryan Powrozek:

Yeah, I hope so.

Denise Asker:

Yeah. Good. Well, I’ll stay tuned and catch up with you later.

Bryan Powrozek:

All right. Thanks Denise.

Denise Asker:

Bye.

Bryan Powrozek:

Bye.

Bryan Powrozek:

Hello and welcome to the Sound of Automation podcast. Joining me today is my colleague Elly Mioduszweski. She’s a manager from our digital advisory team. Elly, how you doing?

Elly Mioduszewski, Consulting Manager:

Good. Happy to be here.

Bryan Powrozek:

Great. We’re talking about something I think pretty much every business owner is looking at and thinking about today and in a way it’s kind of the new fad, data analytics. Everyone’s, I need data analytics, I need more data analytics than I already have, but it’s also one of those things that I think can be very dangerous and implement it incorrectly and then everyone says, oh, well, this was the next Six Sigma or the next whatever process that we implemented that didn’t work out and so let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing. That’s really going to be our focus today is trying to talk through some of that and how do companies that either don’t have a good strong data platform currently or they have them, but they’re looking to expand it, grow from there. I guess just, from your own perspective and what you’ve seen with companies you’ve worked with, what is really the importance of having this strong data driven culture, as opposed to just being the entrepreneur who runs their business based off their gut?

Elly Mioduszewski:

Absolutely. Every business today is run on systems. You can’t really run a business today without systems. If you do, I’m impressed, but every system is producing data and so it really comes down to, how are you using that data to make sure that you are driving efficiencies and growth in your company? What does that really mean? Do you know what data’s available? Do you know where it’s coming from and if it’s complete and accurate? Do you have appropriate KPIs that are matched to your management goals, that you’re able to see on a real time basis? All of this really is the precipice, just scratching the surface of that data driven culture. Like you said, it’s the hot topic today, a lot of it because we’re in the area of digital transformation. That train is at the station and you either get on it or you’re left behind. You don’t have to be in first class, but you at least need to be on the train and starting to do something. I’m excited to be here today to talk a little bit about how companies can do that.

Bryan Powrozek:

Excellent. It was interesting, I was just listening to a webinar and the presenter was talking about, he pulled up this cartoon and it was a person sitting in an office and just surrounded with charts and graphs and the person in the door was saying, well, it looks like you have all the data and the presenter made the point of, there’s so much data out there in organizations these days. Our accounting systems are collecting it, your manufacturing equipment’s collecting it, but really what you’re talking about is information and you need to get down to information to help people run their business.

Elly Mioduszewski:

Absolutely. It’s really how you consume it because it’s there, we know it’s there, but getting to the point where it’s consumable on a day to day basis, where you can actually make decisions off of it, that’s where we want to help companies get to.

Bryan Powrozek:

Let’s say I’m a business owner who I’ve run my company to this point either off just pure gut feel or I look at my cash balance every month and as long as it’s positive, things are going good or my net income or my sales, how do you see a business owner starting down this process to really become more data driven and focus on the things that are important to their business?

Elly Mioduszewski:

Sure. The short of it is really start small. Don’t boil the ocean. Pick a handful of KPIs that are meaningful to your business and that might be something as easy as revenue that you might not be real time updates on, but pick a few KPIs that are important to you. They might also be driven by regulatory requirements that you need to comply with. Pick those. Understand where your data is and how it’s being transformed today for your end results and then figure out your path forward. Is that, do you use someone internal to your company to create an analytic within an Excel workbook, like a macro? That’s step A and then expanding from there, do you outsource? Do you get a third party to come in and help create an analytic for you that’s on a subscription basis using your data? Which is really where I think the world is going to, it’s that, how are we integrating all of the systems? No one has just one system at their company. There’s at least two, many, many more. I’ve seen companies with as many as 120.

Elly Mioduszewski:

Those systems all have key data and so integrating those, using a third party provider that can aggregate that data and get it to you in a way that is consumable, is an option. Again, that’s down the road. Starting small, think of how you can dip your toes into the water there. I think the other piece too and something that I recommend for every company to do is really analyze their system. Have an IT inventory of what systems do you have today, what data you have in them, why is it important to your company and then how can I visualize that. Most cloud systems today have some sort of built in reporting or dashboarding and one thing that an owner can do or anybody really in the company that is in charge of the analytic piece or financials, is take stock of what’s available for you in your system before going out and creating something.

Elly Mioduszewski:

There have been many companies I’ve seen where we’ll be working with them on a project and they’ve been exporting data in a certain way for five, 10 years, the exact same way, but they’re have been upgrades to the system in that time period that may not have been completely understood. Having the expertise either within your company or talking to an advisor or talking to your implementer, talk to somebody to see if there’s a way for your systems today to produce the data that you need. That might be a custom report that company can build for you. It might be an analytic that a third party can build for you or a firm can build for you, but there are solutions out there to get you what you need quickly and so it’s at your fingertips, which we’re all used to today, with our phones in our pockets. That’s where we’re Headed.

Bryan Powrozek:

In talking with a lot of different business owners and this question of dashboards and KPIs and how do I set this up? A lot of people have this misconception that there’s this silver bullet, ideal product out there that I just haven’t found yet and so if someone can connect me to that, it goes… I really like your approach of starting small because I think you see this a lot in the entrepreneurial space is this failing fast, right? That’s where the starting small really helps, is you can do something. Okay, that didn’t work, so let’s tweak it this way, rather than going out buying this huge software platform, having it implemented and being like, oh gosh, all of our underlying data is garbage and so we can’t use this expensive product we bought before.

Elly Mioduszewski:

That happens. I’ve seen it happen and it’s pretty unfortunate. That’s money out the window if you don’t set up your dashboarding at a minimum correctly, but let alone your systems correctly, to do what you need to do and you’re right. Starting small allows you to grow and it is an iterative approach. I think that’s a point to drive home. You are going to have changes in your company. There are macro environment changes and that’s going to change what you need to see. Having a system, a tool, a process in place that is going to allow you to get the data you need today, but also change to get the data you need tomorrow, that’s where companies are going to be looking to get to.

Bryan Powrozek:

Yep. Let’s talk for a minute about the underlying data because I think that to me is one of the biggest hurdles to get over. You go into a company, oh yeah, we have time entry data. All of our employees put the time in, but then as you start going through it, you start realizing, well, it wasn’t entered for the intended purpose. While yes, you have this mountain of data, it’s all bad data, for what you want to use it for. How do you walk companies through that and help them understand what they have, how much value it has, et cetera?

Elly Mioduszewski:

Sure. I think when you think of analytics, it’s a feedback loop. Again, like you said, it’s not a silver bullet that you’re going to get exactly what you need when you need it. The underlying data piece is a tricky beast. We’ve been living in this world where data has been input for decades at this point for some companies and it might not have been done in the most controlled best practice way and so there are variations in that data. I think the first step is seeing it and getting those reactions from your stakeholders to say, hey, that doesn’t seem right with what we’re expecting, going back and then changing processes behind your analytics to end up with that gold standard, I’m 100%, not 100%, I can’t talk in absolutes, but 80 to 90% confident in these number. it’s really just continuously going through that feedback loop of here’s our number today, we can make our business decisions off of it, we’re 60 to 70% comfortable, we have a team or someone working in the background to make us more controlled and comfortable with what we have and it’s complete and accurate and now we’re going to get to that 80 to 90, to 90 to 100% comfortable with our numbers, but that happens over time. It’s not going to be right after you implement the analytic.

Bryan Powrozek:

Exactly. That’s where I almost feel where the tools then help support, as you grow and you start developing that, it becomes a lot easier once you’ve got the framework of whatever your data analytics platform is going to be, that it’s like, okay, now we’re going to pull in this additional piece of information or we’re going to pull out this additional piece of information and it’s there and it allows you to be more agile because the framework has been established. Which again, just reinforce the importance of starting small, is you start small, you get the framework correct and then you build out from there, as opposed to locking yourself in from day one that, hey, we use PowerBI and this is the platform we’re going to use and it doesn’t integrate with any of our others softwares, but we already invested in PowerBI and that’s the way we’re going.

Bryan Powrozek:

I guess then as business owners are working through that, how is the best way for them to try and identify some of those KPIs? You talked about starting small, start with revenue, start with something like that, but as they’re progressing into those next levels, how do they start looking for, where do they look like, what kind of advice do you have there?

Elly Mioduszewski:

Sure. I think the first piece of advice I have is really look at where you’ve been struggling in your business today. If that’s known to you, you probably can put a KPI in place to start tracking better in that area to try to find the root cause and really that again is that feedback loop piece of, hey, there’s something in my business that I’m not completely sure is going in the right direction. Let’s put some metrics around it and track it for a while and see if we can get any insights and implement some changes there. The other piece of it, you can go to Google and type in KPI for any industry and there are hundreds and thousands of KPIs you can find that will possibly relate to your business, but my biggest piece of advice is really having your management goals for the next five to 10 years mapped out and from there selecting KPIs based on those goals, just to make sure you’re working towards them appropriately. That’s really where I would start.

Bryan Powrozek:

It’s interesting you bring that up because that’s another one of those silver bullets I get asked about a lot from clients. Oh, you work with all these different system integrators, you understand what makes one successful versus the other, give me the KPIs I should be tracking. Give me the benchmarks I should be setting myself against and while yes, I see those things, it’s so hard because a system integrator in Kansas servicing the oil and gas or the pharmaceutical industry, is going to operate completely different than someone based in California who’s focused on agriculture and water management and things like that. While yes, you’re all in that same area, you’re all in the same industry, so to speak, you’re not really because you’re servicing different industries, you got different business structures and so I think that that becomes important.

Bryan Powrozek:

As you said, it’s first understand your business. It’s almost like the higher up you go, the further you pull back and you start looking at your region or the country as a whole whole. Those are really just guideposts and indicators that, hey, generally the market’s going up or it’s going down, but I’m not going to look at it across the country and say, well, every system integrator has a gross margin of this, so that’s what I need to be shooting for, when maybe your business doesn’t support that or maybe your business supports something higher and you shouldn’t be aiming down at what you know others are doing. I think that’s a big key for people, is to not get so caught up on what their peers are doing. It’s good to know, but again, it’s just a data point, right?

Elly Mioduszewski:

Exactly.

Bryan Powrozek:

It’s all one data point and don’t make any decision based upon that one data point.

Elly Mioduszewski:

Absolutely. I like how you said too, even if you feel like you’re doing well, you might be able to do better. If you are benchmarking against other companies, if you’re top class, don’t think your job is done. Keep pushing forward and find those areas to grow because that’s what’s going to make you successful in the long term.

Bryan Powrozek:

I think as you move further down the road, what’s interesting about this to me is being able to use this then to guide business decisions. Now I’ve got this history of two or three years of data that I know how my business operates and now I want to add on a complimentary service or I want to expand into a new market. Now I can look at that and compare and say, hey, wait a second. Why is my office in Texas operating differently than my office in North Carolina? Maybe it’s an inherent infrastructure thing that they are going to operate differently and you accept that and now you set different metrics for those different offices or you look at and say, how do I bring this office up to match what the other one’s doing? I think those are all the exciting insights people want to get to, it takes time to get there and build out.

Bryan Powrozek:

I guess when you’re looking at it, do you have any advice, beyond the starting small, for business owners, if they’re looking at setting up these data platforms?

Elly Mioduszewski:

I would say, don’t go it alone. There’s many, many very smart people in the world today that have studied analytics and have been in that world for many years. Talk to them. They’re going to have solutions that might be out of the box for some of the KPIs that you’re looking at or they’ll be able to help ask those questions to get you to the right solution. Definitely don’t go it alone. I would say think of some of those larger companies, those fortune 500 companies. They have entire departments devoted to data analytics. Use people. They’re there and ask the good questions.

Bryan Powrozek:

Really probably to some extent too, try and find those, as hard as it can be, unbiased third party. Don’t call up the Tableau rep and ask them to come in because they’re going to see that one way you… You really need a business advisor that you trust, whether that be your CPA, your attorney, your banker. Find that advisor who understands your business and understands what’s important. I know we do that a lot with our clients where you and I are working with a client right now and their an ERP system. It’s like, hey, we don’t want to be the implementer. We don’t want to do any of this stuff. We want to help you find the right one for your business and then we’ll connect you with the right people to handle that piece of it and then we can sit in the background and act as the translator between the two. Same thing here.

Bryan Powrozek:

Having that advisor there that can help them decipher what are the important things, what are not and then what’s the right solution that’ll get me there. Maybe, hopefully, knock on wood, that solution is already within the systems you have, you’re just not using it.

Elly Mioduszewski:

Yeah. That’s the beauty of evaluating ERPs as well, like you just mentioned, is analytics could be a included. Two for one deal right there.

Bryan Powrozek:

Exactly. Well, awesome. Elly, I really appreciate you coming in and taking some time with me today. If anyone out there listening to this has additional questions based on anything we talked about, you can reach out to myself or Elly. Both of our information is available on Clayton McKervey’s website. Really appreciate you coming in.

Elly Mioduszewski:

Absolutely. Thanks, Brian.

Bryan Powrozek:

Thanks.

Announcer:

Thank you for tuning in. Don’t forget to like us, subscribe and share on social. Learn more about Clayton and McKervey. Visit us at claytonmckeyvey.com. That’s C-L-A-Y-T-O-N-M-C-K-E-Y-V-E-Y.com. We thrive on finding the solutions for you.

Clayton & McKervey

Related Insights

Industrial Automation Companies

Data-driven decision making: 3 key insights for business owners

Posted on May 25, 2022 by

Ben Smith
What does it take to build a data-driven business? For self-reliant leaders who feel they’ve hit a plateau when it comes to scaling a business, adopting a data-driven approach can be a breakthrough success strategy. Using data in a more focused way helps good engineers become good entrepreneurs. It’s about creating balance. Here we take a look at key insights for business owners when using data in decision making.

Industrial Automation Companies

The Sound of Automation: The Future of Work

Posted on May 17, 2022 by

Bryan Powrozek
In this episode we talk about the future of work with Stephanie Murphy, Leadership Strategy Consultant from ADVISA. Stephanie and Bryan discuss what the post-Pandemic workplace looks like and strategies that companies are using to bring their organizations back to pre-Pandemic productivity levels.  It's not a one-size fits all process.

Industrial Automation Companies

Industrial Automation: 5 Business Valuation Considerations

Posted on May 12, 2022 by

Tim Finerty
Business valuation concerns are just as important to industrial automation leaders as they are to owners in other big market sectors. Capital Valuation Group (a key Clayton & McKervey partner that focuses almost exclusively on business valuation consultation) recommends getting an early start and treating valuation like a routine investment check. We have collected some insights here on how to adopt that investor mentality and apply it to your business. 

Sign up for our newsletters

Get general business and industry-specific news and knowledge straight from our accounting specialists.

The Sound of Automation Podcast

The Sound of Automation Podcast

Industrial automation businesses are the driving force behind Industry 4.0, and Clayton & McKervey is here to help.

Insights & Perspectives

Data-driven decision making: 3 key insights for business owners

What does it take to build a data-driven business? For self-reliant leaders who feel they’ve hit a plateau when it comes to scaling a business, adopting a data-driven approach can be a breakthrough success strategy. Using data in a more focused way helps good engineers become good entrepreneurs. It’s about creating balance. Here we take a look at key insights for business owners when using data in decision making.

Read More

The Sound of Automation Podcast

Industrial automation businesses are the driving force behind Industry 4.0, and Clayton & McKervey is here to help.

Skip to content