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With the increasing availability of data, most of us have done some form of data analysis in our day-to-day lives. It can be as personal as looking at a household budget and figuring out where we overspent during the Christmas period, to something as wide scale as a business executive looking at the company’s operating numbers to identify areas to increase efficiency. Some of these analyses may take place on a regular frequency, like weekly or monthly; others may occur on a more ad hoc basis. In this post, I’ll go through when continuous monitoring using data is suitable for organisations and how to set up continuous monitoring.
Benefits and importance of continuous monitoring
Continuous monitoring usually happens in organisations in these 2 areas: tracking performance and communicating a common objective.
When businesses use data to continuously monitor performance, they can identify areas of improvement, opportunities for growth and benchmark against competitors. Leaders can then make data-driven decisions for their business, such as budget and planning activities, setting strategic direction, and initiating process improvements. Continuous monitoring is a proactive approach to using data. It helps businesses monitor for issues regularly so they can manage and rectify them as soon as the data indicates a concerning issue. Without regular monitoring using data insights, the issue could escalate if undetected for longer periods of time. Continuous monitoring fosters continued business growth and supports risk management that can happen at the overall organisation, department, or individual team level.
Continuous monitoring can also help increase data transparency across the organisation and help drive better overall performance. The data can not only help leaders make decisions but also support them in communicating a common objective and improve team engagement. Regular monitoring using data provides visibility for teams to track performance towards a shared target. It enables leaders to identify when individuals or teams aren’t progressing as expected, so they can facilitate performance discussions and provide additional support where required. It also helps identify where individuals or teams have exceeded performance targets and should be recognised in a timely manner.
While most organisations prepare regulatory reporting, this usually happens infrequently (e.g., annual basis). This type of reporting usually uses historical data that can be difficult for leaders to make decisions with because they’re often months out of date. An organisation can perform continuous monitoring when there’s a process in place to regularly update executives and other stakeholders on what’s happening in the business. For example, conducting an audit of every part of the business regularly is costly. Hence, audit tests are done on selected parts of the business on a rotational basis. However, when there are processes set up for continuous monitoring, it enables the business to review what’s happening across the whole business regularly without having to expend excessive resources. Most reporting uses historical data, but it’s about how quickly and often these insights are delivered so business leaders can make changes, manage risk, and impact future outcomes.
Alteryx Auto Insights is one of the tools that can help make continuous monitoring easier for organisations. Auto Insights has helped enable businesses to do much more analysis than a single analyst team can achieve within a single reporting or audit cycle. An example of this was when a fraud team set up a recurring email for insights used in continuous monitoring. Auto Insights helps them identify an unusual trend in their claims data which enables them to change their process and ultimately reduce their future risk.
Click here for more details on use cases that use Auto Insights for continuous monitoring.
When continuous monitoring may not be suitable
While there are multiple reasons why continuous monitoring is important and beneficial, there are some instances where continuous monitoring may not be suitable.
Suitable data isn’t available – Suitable data is clean, accurate, and can provide insights across time. However, if the data is not suitable for insights or is collected in a once-off scenario, continuous monitoring wouldn’t be possible over time.
Appropriate data governance controls aren’t in place to support data sharing – Data governance is important to provide context about the data to business users and puts safeguards in place to reduce the risk of unauthorised data access. This enables business users to understand and trust the data they have access to.
Setting up for continuous monitoring
With a better idea of when continuous monitoring is beneficial and when it’s not suitable, here’s how to set up your organisation for continuous monitoring.
Enabling users to trust the insights – In addition to ensuring the appropriate data governance controls are in place, the data should be complete, accurate, and timely for business users to make decisions with. Having a standardised source of truth and reporting process helps reduce the risk of disparate data that can reduce the credibility of the insights shared with stakeholders.
Make data insights accessible – Different users across an organisation will have varying levels of data literacy. For some. such as analysts, this may mean having access to the data source so they can create reports and dashboards. For others who may not be as data technical, this may mean being served with insights that they can understand. Some organisations use Alteryx Auto Insights to provide business users with data insights that are easy to understand and they can continuously monitor, particularly with the email summary of insights features.
Hopefully, this post has given you a better understanding of using data for continuous monitoring and how Alteryx Auto Insights can help you with this. If you have any questions, please put them in the comments. I’d love to hear how you facilitate continuous monitoring in your organisation!