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We all aspire to make data-driven decisions, but in many cases, the tools and data available force K12 organization to compromise on this ideal. Many school districts have both a mandate from funders as well as a moral obligation as educators to transform how they make decisions, but the hurdles to genuinely accomplish this are a significant challenge. Let’s look at some of the factors getting in the way of true data-driven decision making.
When you have multiple systems and data being moved between them or entered multiple times, you frequently find multiple answers to the same question. For example, we often find that if you ask HR and Finance how many full time employees you currently have, they will each have different answers because they have different systems. When you don’t have a single source of truth, you can’t make data-driven decisions.
When a report is put in front of you, do you know how that information has been manipulated? Finance teams frequently need to use spreadsheets and formulas to store, combine, and adjust data pulled from disparate systems. This manual effort increases the risk of errors and means that asking the simple question of “where did this number come from?” requires considerable backtracking and digging through data to find the source. This means the decisions you make based on that data could be built on inaccurate information.
Many of the decisions you make have to do with budget allocation and tracking, but how often do you see budget updates? In a recent survey, Sparkrock found that one-third of organizations get budget updates quarterly or less. Infrequent updates mean that when you make decisions based on the latest data, it’s already out of date. Comparatively, half of organizations with an ERP solution get budget updates at least weekly. The ability to access real-time budget information is critical to making the best possible decisions with your funds.
Real-time data needs go beyond just budget. What’s the time lapse before you get to see a report on absenteeism or overdue invoices? When you have that data at your fingertips, you have better visibility on the financial health and trends at your school district, allowing you to make decisions based on what’s happening now – not what was happening three months ago.
Imagine what your organization could achieve if everyone on staff had access to the data they need to do their job effectively and efficiently. Right now, data is likely focused in the hands of just a few. However, if you can democratize data, you could empower employees at every level to make daily decisions based on accurate, real-time information.
Reliable, accurate, and timely data can make all the difference when you’re trying to make the best possible decisions for your school district.