Aggressively Pursue the Bottlenecks

How one book changed my outlook on attacking business problems.

The most important business book of my career is “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.

The book introduced me to the Theory of Constraints and the identification (and eradication) of bottlenecks to increase throughput. The application of this process is explained in a setting of a manufacturing plant but if you read it with the idea of attacking the business problems that face you every day: you will be more successful.

It is not a stretch, for example, to compare reporting & analysis responsibilities in banks to a manufacturing process. At the heart of the problem is a process that includes bottlenecks. An organization can experience transformational change by knocking out these bottlenecks and engaging in the world of continuous improvement.

How do you pursue bottlenecks in your organization? Take advice from "The Goal":

To be more specific, the goal of reporting and analysis is to provide decision makers with the necessary information to make the best decisions. Here are three bottlenecks that can be aggressively pursued with a modern analytics platform:

  • Disparate Data - The attempt to put all of the necessary data in a Data Warehouse or a Data Lake has proven elusive. Whether it is due to legacy systems from acquisitions in the 90’s or multiple instances of Salesforce, it is a bottleneck that represents an enormous opportunity.
  • Spreadsheet technology - Builds off of the first bottleneck of data being in multiple places. Users are forced to export data into spreadsheets and mash the data sources together. If you are concatenating fields to create a unique identifier for your Vlookup() or Sumif() formula, you know what I am talking about!
  • Distribution - Now that the business data is combined on a desktop, how does it get to the business managers? An amazing amount of insight is created by business and financial analysts with the unfortunate fact that getting insight out to the business users becomes a dumbing down process. In other words, the incredibly powerful spreadsheet model needs to be broken up so the business users can consume it. It is painful to watch and a business problem I see throughout the industry.

The great news is that technology has leap-frogged the business problem and Qlik’s modern analytics platform has the capacity to completely eliminate all three of these bottlenecks. I’ll give you an example. Last summer, a Reporting & Analytics Director from a top global bank presented at a Financial Services event and told the audience that they no longer use spreadsheets in their organization. I challenged him in the Q&A after the speech and he admitted that other departments still send them spreadsheets but his team has, in fact, eliminated them. This is not an outlier.

Aggressively identify, pursue and eliminate the bottlenecks using a modern analytics platform as your foundation. There are many ways to get started and we have eliminated several bottlenecks with Qlik Sense Cloud Business, here is a short video:

Also, you can send an email to [email protected] if you would like access to a collection of Financial Service specific applications on my Qlik Cloud.


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