The Grawe Gazette – Executive Management
Better Reporting for Faster Results
The Grawe Group, LLC, April 2021
Formerly as in-house executive leaders, and now as advisors to carriers and brokers we see the power of meaningful operating reporting versus the drain of reporting that is too complicated, too basic, too misleading, too late, or some combination.
The Power of Good Reports*
*By reports we mean new school business intelligence dashboards, old school reports, deep data farming, key performance indicators, real time alerts, and everything in between on the performance measurement spectrum.
Good reports tell you which drivers to prioritize for safety coaching. Good reports tell you utilization is slipping within a certain fleet. Good reports tell you your 12th biggest customer is producing your 3rd best margin per load.
Good Reporting Characteristics
- Accuracy. They do not have to be perfect. They must be accurate enough with well-defined parameters and data flows, and limited, appropriate assumptions so the report users can rely on them without having to question and argue (“my report says we’re great, your report is wrong”).
- Timely. Each topic has its own timeline. Safety events need to be monitored in as close to real time as possible for appropriate coaching. Margin and utilization reporting is more helpful at a daily and weekly level than it is at a monthly level. Good reports need to be timely for the topic so the user can act and impact the results timely.
- Useable. If the user needs an hour to digest the safety dashboard every morning, the dashboard is no good. If the report needs a translator every time it is delivered, the report is no good.
- Training and tools. The point of a report is to deliver information to the people who can act and improve the results. If the users are not trained on the report, or given the tools to easily access the report, the report will waste time and space. Educate users on which reports help them do their job the most, what data feeds the reports, what can be learned from the reports, and how to dig deeper into issues revealed by the reports. Turn your users into power users. Give them the training and the tools – the power – to make a difference with the reports.
Bad Reporting Characteristics
- Late. A report that tells you margin dropped last month is not nearly as helpful as a report that tells you margin dropped yesterday.
- Too basic. A report that tells you drivers exceeded the speed limit 375 times yesterday is not very helpful. A report that tells you 4 drivers exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more for longer than 3 minutes helps you prioritize your time effectively. There must be enough detail and parameters to show you where to dig deeper and find targets for improvement.
- Too detailed. A report listing every lane departure every day for the past week is so detailed any informative nuggets become needles in the report haystack.
- Inconsistent. If your report is built from multiple data sources, rules need to be consistent to make the report useful. For example, make sure one data source for the report is not relying on paid driver miles while another is relying on dispatched miles. Discrepancies in underlying data rules can lead to misleading data and flawed insights.
Benchmarking Improves Reports
Once you have good reporting characteristics established, unlock another level of benefits by stacking your reports against internal and external benchmarking. Good reports against good benchmarking data make prioritizing time and resources much easier. And benchmarking does not always have to be against other companies. Often the best benchmarking is against yourself month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year. It is the best apples-to-apples comparison you will find.
Prioritize the Right Reports
Good reports are also not drowned out by a sea of other reports. Regularly review the reports your teams use across functions and business units. Review reports that are available but are not used. Review who gets which reports, when they get them, and how often. Make sure the most useful reports are easily accessible and prioritized by the right team members.
With good reporting habits and fundamentals your team can become much more proactive, correcting small trends before they become big problems. In an industry as volatile as ours, in an industry with small margins like ours, good reporting habits can make a huge difference in your ability to improve your business quickly.
Next week we will share helpful tips to create more useful financial reports to make it that much easier for you to improve your financial results.
If you could use improvements in your reporting habits, call us. Whether financial, operational, or risk-related, we have the experience and expertise to help you get more out of your reporting.
The Grawe Group, LLC is a professional services firm focused on the transportation and logistics industry. With a team of experienced executives, we provide general counsel services, business consulting, and managed professional services specific for the industry. From legal and risk management matters, to operational, financial, and executive challenges, the Grawe Group has the consulting, management, and legal expertise in trucking and logistics to help you build sustainable success. www.thegrawegroup.com