3 Hidden Costs of Not Charting Your Business Performance

picture of a chart on a page on desk with ruler and pen

by Warren Hayford

When managers are asked why they don’t chart, they give several reasons, “We don’t have the time,” “We don’t have the staff,” “We don’t have the money for the software.”

Each of these reasons is taken from the viewpoint of what they’re doing now which is not charting. What happens if you turn that question around and ask, “What is the cost not to chart?”

The first cost of not charting is time wasted. Time wasted overcoming too much detail or not enough focus that should be invested in achieving goals.

When you have reports with too much detail, the detail gets in the way of understanding the big picture of the business. People argue over pennies or transactions that haven’t yet appeared in the report instead of discussing the trend and direction of the business.

Think about how many times you have been in a meeting that ends in an argument which chews up all the time. An argument which while it’s important to both sides, it is not important to the overall business.

Time is also wasted in explaining reports over and over. If a report is not part of a person’s every day work, and is only presented quarterly, they have to be “retrained” every quarter. This takes time. And usually a group’s time.

This leads to the second cost of not charting. A lack of focus. To accomplish large change, an organization needs to be focused. Every person in the organization needs to operate on the same page. This focus requires information to flow from wherever it is collected to where it is needed. Traditional reporting systems do not provide this flexibility.

Reporting systems are owned and managed by individual business functions and operations. This leads to reports which have the bias of the organization that owns the system. Examples of this are rampant even in smaller organizations. The Accounting Department has its financial reports. The Marketing Department has its marketing reports. And Sales and Production have there own reports as well.

This situation makes it almost impossible to effectively manage the resources of the business. Urgent events in disparate departments draw resources in multiple different directions. Resources are drawn away from the overall priority projects to address these urgent needs.

The third and most important cost of not charting is a failure to achieve goals and priorities. This is the most important because it threatens the existence of the organization. An organization which waste some time or money can survive. An organization that doesn’t achieve its goals will rarely survive.

Not charting has significant cost to the organization. Relying on traditional reporting systems to provide the information needed to achieve goals does not work. Without a focused, flexible way to analyze and present a business’s performance, resources will not be concentrated enough to achieve the organization’s goals.

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