The Finance Leader Podcast

092: Using Validated Data

August 02, 2022 Stephen McLain Season 11 Episode 2
The Finance Leader Podcast
092: Using Validated Data
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Show Notes Transcript

We work with data every day in finance and accounting. The data leads us to insights and relevant information. This is why it’s important that our data is clean AND validated. The way to useable information is to ensure we have good data, but do you know what that means, and can you spot bad data when it shows up in your analysis? Know the data you are working with to ensure it leads you to the correct conclusions in your financial analysis or accounting work. Also, if possible, always try to tell a story with the data.
Episode outline:

  1. Ensure you have validated data,
  2. Data leads to analysis which leads to useable insights,
  3. Use leadership with your data analysis to make a difference, and
  4. Use data to tell a story.

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We work with data every day in finance and accounting. The data leads us to insights and relevant information. This is why it's important that our data is clean and validated. The way to usable information is to ensure we have good data. But do you know what that means? And can you spot bad data when it shows up in your analysis? Know the data you're working with to ensure it leads you to the correct conclusions in your financial analysis or accounting work. Also, if possible, always try to tell a story with the data. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also, please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 92. And I will be talking about how important it is to ensure you have validated data for your analysis. And I will highlight the following topics. Number one, ensure you have validated data. Number two data leads to analysis, which leads to usable insights. Number three, use leadership with your data analysis to make a difference. And for use data to tell a story. Author Dan Heath said data are just summaries of 1000s of stories tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful. Now I'm excited about what we are covering this week. But first, I have another reminder about your goal completion for this year. Are you making progress? are you capturing your progress in any changes in your individual development plan? Also, what about your CPS? Are you getting them done, I don't want you to be overwhelmed at the end of the year or whenever your due date is each week, find a little time to complete a CPE credit or two. Don't leave it to the week before your due date. The topic this week is about using data. But you are probably asking yourself, but the finance leader podcast is about leadership. Now I do believe in developing your leadership skills and then applying those skills across everything we do in finance and accounting. I know you're expected to know the technical skills of our fields. I live that too. I have that expectation too. When we lead, we set the conditions for change. We set the conditions to influence in a positive way. And we set the conditions for success. So how do we apply leadership to data first, we can never assume our data is always clean, good and validated. Second, it's important to forge a strong relationship with our data warehouse people. So we can lead to ensure there's no complacency in how our data is recorded, transmitted, stored, and how it's made usable by the team. Having clean and validated data is the beginning of great analysis and finding relevant insights. So how many of you had dealt with data that makes no sense? It happens more than you think. And you have to be watching, I want you to be leading so that clean, validated data is always available to you and your team. Last week in Episode 91. I talked about financial planning and analysis. A well resourced and planned out FP and a team will know the strategy and can determine the key metrics to measure the execution of that strategy. F PNA will always be where metrics and analysis, meet decisions and then strategy. The source of all great analysis will always be clean validated data. Are you using good data? How do you know the requirements for validated data are proper format and within an acceptable range of values for a given field? A step beyond data validation is data verification, where your data is accurate and consistent. Anything can happen in the transmission of data in the exporting of data. And other multiple steps in the information flow process is your data in the right format in the right place is within an acceptable value range and doesn't make sense for the label you have for that particular field. Keep watching for clean data and be looking for data that makes no sense. Now let's try an easy example. Let's say you are looking to download us phone numbers. You are looking for 10 digits an area code plus a seven digit phone number with the area code of one as optional. So if you're seeing any Anything other than 10 digits or are seeing non number characters, then something is wrong with your data and you can investigate to find out what happened. Now this was an easy example, I will always recommend that you have a great relationship with your data warehouse team, or however your organization handles data. It might be a key application you are using. It all depends on your business model, the scale of the business and what you are delivering an aspect that all financial analysts and accountants need to embrace is the role of leader, a great leader works to bring the best outcome and to create positive impacts in the organization. I expect you to do that with the data and your insights don't just provide the numbers provide context and a story, you need to do more than just the analysis. You need to partner with metric owners, department heads and senior leaders own this process. Own what you're doing so you can make a difference. If you do that, you will be sought out and asked your thoughts you will be asked to participate more in the process, you will be making a difference and you will be viewed as a leader, the leader I want you to be an effective leader use the stories to move people to action and then to decision. I believe a great story will capture your audience. Can you tell a story with the data? I talked about this last week in Episode 91. Data is not isolated numbers, something happened to create that data, a sale occurred a payroll check was cut, a raw material was purchased. And many other things that happened. There are stories in each event and in each piece of data. Can you match the data to something that happened that can positively affect decision making. I learned three valuable lessons from data many years ago, ensure you are always using clean data, you have to answer the sowhat in anything you present. And finally try to always tell a story. Data is powerful, but it's the beginning of analysis. Your data must be clean and timely to be relevant. This leads to analysis that can lead to insights. In order to have great insights you need to know your metrics and what impacts them and how it affects your stakeholder. clean data, great analysis and insights which can positively affect your stakeholder, which ultimately leads to the execution of strategy. Now let's talk about the importance of using validated data for a few minutes. Number one, and sure you have validated data. Before you can make a positive impact, you have to ensure you have clean validated data, which means your data is accurate, formatted properly and the data you get is the data you expected. It's always the case. So you have to be vigilant and watchful. You have to look over your data to ensure it's formatted correctly, it matches the field that it is in and the value you got is within the acceptable range. validated data leads to better analysis. The opposite is always true too. If you use corrupted data or incomplete data, you will have incomplete analysis or analysis that leads you to the wrong conclusions. Do you have a data integrity plan or process? Do you know how your company ensures that you have only cleaned validated data, I would recommend that you know how they do it. Number two, data leads to analysis which leads to usable insights. Your clean validated data begins your journey of delivering key business insights and relevant information that can lead to important action and then key decisions. As finance and accounting professionals, you have an incredible opportunity to lead change, to make a difference and to influence better outcomes by partnering with metric owners, key stakeholders and leaders from around the company. validated data will lead you to analysis, which can lead you to usable insights. But you need to know what you are looking for. We need to also know to look for things that are different in our analysis. Additionally, we also need to refresh our financial models and how you do analysis. Over time, your models may become corrupted and filled with errors. I have seen this many times on consulting assignments, where I was asked to repair old financial models. Number three, use leadership with your data analysis to make a difference. When we partner with leadership around the company. We share the burden and purpose to deliver the strategy. Not everyone will agree with me because many analysts like to remain neutral and just provide the numbers. But this approach falls short in so many ways. We are missing out in the company's missing out if you're not helping leadership, understand their numbers better leaders lead others and what we should try to do is to make a difference, a positive difference. We don't just accept the status quo We should be working to add value and to grow the business every day and every opportunity we have to work with the numbers. Use your leadership to shape and influence better decisions. Number four, use data to tell a story. Data always tells a story if you know the variables and the y to the metric you are analyzing, something happened, a cost was incurred or an event took place. And a piece of data was recorded. That data along with similar data tells us a string of events that are occurring within the business that affects what we are doing and what we will be doing. It's a story. If we can become a storyteller. If we know the details and how it relates to our audience, a story will relate better to your audience. Instead of just relaying the numbers share an insight and story form, if possible, that relates to your audience. Try linking a story to the impact you want to create relate better to your audience by showing what the data has done, and what it can do. Use human relatable elements know what moves your audience being able to tell a story also means you have the time and resources to do that. If you spend a majority of your time just getting the validated data or formatting or just cutting and pasting, then you probably don't have enough time to add more value to your analysis. But this is where I want all of us to go to share analysis through relevant stories. Embrace leadership to make a difference in your company. You can do that with your analysis along with how you form partnerships with the metric holders and senior leaders. Our first step is always to ensure we have cleaned validated data. And we just don't end there. validated data leads to the opportunity to find useful insights. And then hopefully, we get to turn that into a value added relatable story that helps decision makers. Now for action today. Do you know if you're using clean validated data, I would hope after this episode, you will be more watchful over the data that you are using. If you're not already a few things that I recommend. The first thing is learn who your data warehouse team is introduce yourself. Of course, this depends on your business model and the scale of your company. Partner with them so you can ensure that the data coming through is clean. Next is to learn everything about your company's data. And then finally be more observant when using data and report anything that looks odd. take a more active role in your company's data, which will then lead to better analysis. Don't forget to grab my free guide for you called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. Are you a finance or accounting professional who is also leading people, but have questions about how to lead more effectively. I know you are expected to be the technical expert in our field. Learning leadership can set you apart from your peers, which can then lead you to more opportunities. In the free guide. I talked about three leadership areas communication, team development, and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the financial systems you are using to complete your work. The link to this free guide is in the post or the bio, you can also go to Finance leader To download it. Please use the guide to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. Today I talked about the importance of having clean validated data and I highlighted the following points number one and sure you have validated data. Number two data leads to analysis which leads to usable insights. Number three, use leadership with your data analysis to make a difference, and four use data to tell a story. Today's episode was all about data and using leadership to make a difference. I know we can make a difference. If we go a few steps beyond the numbers, we get to influence positive change. But first, we need to ensure our data is clean and validated. Next, our financial models need to be refreshed from time to time, so we can make sure no errors sneak in which will happen. Finally, I want you to embrace leadership to make a difference. To go beyond just sending off the numbers. Take some risks to tell a story about what you know and what you are seeing. And again, don't forget to review your goals. We are more than halfway through 2022. And it's time to review our goal progress. Please update your individual development plan and assess what you want to get done for the remaining part of this year. And like I said at the beginning of this episode, look at your CVs and get your plan right for completing what you need to get done for this year. Don't wait to the due date to start because you risk losing your certification and maybe more. Next week I'll be talking about using artificial intelligence in our financial analysis and accounting work. This is the future We're over work and we want to start thinking about it now, so we can plan and prepare for utilizing it. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast. I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills, to change your mindset, and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share and leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the podcast. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you

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