The Power of Crystal Clear Decision Making

Crystal Clear Decision Making
Clarity of goals is key to
crystal clear decision making.

Are you the type of person who easily assesses all angles of a decision and calmly arrives at the point of clarity? Or are you the type of person who is overwhelmed by all of the information you need to consider, becoming frozen by indecision, as if you are a deer in the headlights? Does how well you navigate decision-making depend on the type of decision you need to make? Maybe you find making big decisions easy, but smaller ones, like what to order for dinner, leave you stymied.

Effective decision-making requires much more than just the ability to gather and process information. It requires focusing on the very core of the decision, rather than getting mired in the details that can so often derail good decision-making.

Jill Johnson, MBA is an award winning management consultant who has impacted nearly $2.5 billion worth of business decisions and she spoke on this topic at the ACA International’s 74th Annual Convention & Expo in San Diego, CA last week.

What impact does clear decision-making have on companies in the collections business? Let’s start with the decision of which collection software to use. Artiva, DAKCSCollectOneWindebt, Titanium ORE (DM9) and FACS are some of the most frequently used credit and collections software used in the industry. Which one is best for your company? Let’s answer that with a question. What is the single most important thing your business needs this software to do?  Is it:

1. Compliance
2. Process automation
3. Vendor integrations
4. User friendly

What’s key to making the right technology decision, is to focus on the mission critical business outcome.

Once you’ve identified the primary business goal for purchasing collections software, you evaluate each product’s ability to achieve that goal. Software bells and whistles that don’t help your company achieve the primary outcome are extraneous details that should be tossed out. Next, look at other key factors that will affect your company’s ability to execute on your core business. What resources does your company have available to integrate, implement and maintain and the software? Which software syncs most closely with your team’s capabilities?

Your company may have a few other key factors to include in the software selection process. Prioritize them and then score each software solution for effectiveness with those factors.

Finally, there’s budget. It’s last because addressing the primary goal and key factors are mission critical to a clear decision-making process. Without the information about implementation and resources required to maintain the new software, total cost of ownership (TCO) cannot be determined. Quantifying the TCO of software is far more accurate than the purchase price. Focusing on gathering the best information about the primary goals and key factors will provide the path to crystal clear decision-making.

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How to Win “CIO of the Year Award”

CIO Award
Winner of the CIO of the Year Award

Do more, with fewer resources and do it faster.

Almost every CIO I talk with tells me that they face these challenges. They also tell me that dealing with the ever changing compliance requirements adds another layer of difficulty to their jobs. So, what exactly does an IT executive do to tackle these issues to win CIO of the year?

To find out, let’s take a look at the 2013 Denver Business Journal CIO of the year award winner William A. Weeks, CIO SquareTwo Financial. InsideArm published an article about Weeks’ award on July 2, 2013. What did he do so well?

“Bill completely repositioned our IT department as a business differentiator, and increased our technology capabilities so we can lead our industry in data reliability, availability, analysis, decisioning, security and regulatory compliance,” said Paul A. Larkins, president and CEO of SquareTwo Financial.

Selected for the midmarket category of companies with $50 million to $500 million in annual revenue, Weeks stood out for:

  • Transforming an IT department and plugging IT into the business
  • Re-engineering and stabilizing legacy systems
  • Reducing costs
  • Delivering numerous automation benefits
  • Raising the industry bar on data security and collection industry regulatory compliance

Specifically, what Weeks did to accomplish these goals was to improve data quality, increase data and application integration, while improving security and compliance requirements. And at the top of the list is that he “plugged IT into the business”. He aligned the IT group with the business and improved the quality and access of the data assets that the business needs in order to perform more efficiently.  That, I believe,  is the secret recipe for an award winning CIO.

“The Cost of Poor Data Management”

It is surprising that data quality is still a concept that is viewed as a luxury, rather than a necessity. As an unapologetic data quality advocate, I’ve written white papers and blog posts about the value of  good data management. It takes the efforts of many to change  habits. In her blog post, The Costs of Poor Data Management, on the Data Integration Blog, Julie Hunt breaks down the impact data quality has on business.

Here’s an infographic on the cost poor data quality can have on business.

Global research - Bad customer data costs you millions

She points out that the areas of data quality deserving the greatest focus are specific to each organization. If you read my post, “Avoiding Data Quality Pitfalls”,  you know that I’m a proponent of good data governance. Update early and often. My top four suggestions are:

  • Translation Tables
  • Stored Procedures
  • Database Views
  • Validation Lookups, Tables, and Rule

What are yours? Read Julie’s post, and send me your comments.