Why is Data important for your business?

​Gathering data to analyse an organisation and its customers has become an integral part of running a business. Some of the biggest companies in the world based on market value are predominantly tech firms that have historically harvested and analysed data for business use, however advances in technology have made it a relatively straightforward task for companies of all sizes and sectors to start doing the same. From finance to insurance, media and hospitality, companies are using data strategically to understand their users, customers, and market sector better. Data has become so readily available to business leaders that there is already a danger of there being so much of it produced that it can be difficult for many to know what to analyse and to extract anything worthwhile – something we recently blogged about. The redress the balance and shine a positive light on the importance of data, there are some fundamental broad areas where the insights derived from data can truly help an organisation gain a competitive edge over their rivals: processes; performance; decision making; and customers. Improving processes Analysing data can highlight weaknesses in business processes, enabling an organisation to reduce time, resources, or waste in any single process. Data affords a top-down view that can flag obstacles or breakdowns in processes, or aid streamlining with high functioning processes. From production to procurement, any stage of a journey that can deliver a product or service to a customer or client faster and cheaper, is a competitive advantage and will improve an organisation’s bottom line. Understanding and mapping performance Mapping the performance of teams, individuals and suppliers is vital as part of strategic decision making. Knowing how each element of a business is performing against targets and goals is one of the most important insights gained from data, particularly when it comes to the workforce and its future retention and recruitment. Decision making Data provides business leaders with real time intelligence to help them make more grounded market predictions in their space. Taking assumptions or gut feelings out of the equation, leaders can make lower-risk decisions based on facts, provided by the data. Data analysts will provide more accurate forecasts and hypotheses for leaders to base future company strategy on. Understanding customers With demographic, geographic, and behavioural data, businesses are able to gain a better picture of who their customers are and most importantly what they need next. Analysing trends, pain points, and the client or consumer experience and journey, puts an organisation in prime position to pivot towards or double down on market changes. Data is the true voice of the customer and it’s essential that businesses are listening. If Pareto’s Principle (that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of customers) is true, data will detect the indispensable 20%. To take full advantage of data and analytics, you need to know how to get the most value from them, how to embrace the technology and how to manage its results. If you would like to know more about how to maximise the insights gained from your data or need help securing the data analytics talent that can take your organisation forward, contact us today. ​​

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The real cost of getting recruitment wrong

Imagine investing in cutting-edge tech – updating hardware, installing new software, moving from a legacy system via company-wide training – only for it to fail in six months, forcing you to start again. Organisations have teams of experts making sure that the spend on digital transformation isn’t wasted and take months on the process of adopting the right technology for their business needs. Most of these companies would probably also claim that their employees are their biggest asset (and cost), so are they as diligent about their investments in recruitment? In a 2020 survey of 6,000 hiring managers and HR professionals from the ten largest economies in the world, more than 50% said they had made bad recruitment decisions and suffered the consequences. In the UK, that number was 62%. The effects of getting recruitment wrong aren’t only financial. Those numbers are bigger than many employers would think (though according to REC, over a third of employers don’t believe there is any associated cost!), but could the non-financial price you pay be even more important? In the UK, there are plenty of theories and guesstimates around for the monetary cost of replacing an employee who doesn’t work out and it’s far from simply another starting salary. If we take a mid-level hire, starting on £42,000 and factor in: • Advertising and job boards • HR workload • Onboarding costs • Potential loss to the company of an underperforming employee • Training and development costs • Recruitment consultancy costs • Potential costs of a temp or freelancer to cover a vacant post when they leave • Wasted time on the recruitment process • Any extra support the poor hire may have required It is estimated that the replacement costs for that starting salary come out at £115k. If a small company got a couple of hires wrong at that level, it could genuinely put them out of business. But what about the effects that aren’t as black and white in terms of numbers? • Morale – another recent survey showed that CFOs believe that the impact on company morale when a bad hire is made, is performing badly, and then leaves, can be greater than the financial costs. Poor morale spreads fast and can be seen externally by clients. • Disengagement – a poor hire who is either struggling with the job or is a bad fit in terms of company culture is typically disengaged, and disengagement, like morale is contagious. • Productivity – whatever the role, there is always a knock-on effect when one employee isn’t pulling their weight. It affects overall productivity, which reflects badly on more than just that person. A single bad hire can bring an entire team’s average performance down. • Burnout – when an underperforming employee creates a shortfall in productivity, someone else typically needs to step in, resulting in good employees either feeling undervalued or resentful, or even suffering burnout as they undertake more duties. Burnout leads to stress, stress leads to absence or even resignations, compounding the original staffing issue. • Culture and reputation – poor recruitment means high turnover, and this can affect reputation both in terms of outside perceptions negatively impacting new business opportunities as well as discouraging candidates. A decrease in reputation will change the internal culture, which can be a long road back. Of course, recruitment consultants can get it wrong too, but the chances of a strong hire are significantly increased when a business engages the right expertise to find the right people. A consultant with sector knowledge and a high-quality network is vital, but one that can also advise on streamlining the recruitment process to improve the candidate experience will also lessen the chances of hiring the wrong candidate. If you have suffered the effects of a bad hire, or want to re-evaluate your recruitment processes, contact us today. ​

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Six Employee Retention Strategies to Implement

When employees quit, whatever their level, the knock-on effect can be significant. There are associated costs in hiring and training a replacement, but also morale and subsequently productivity can dip, or even plummet if several team members leave at once. Even in strong economic times, retaining employees was a challenge, but today, post-pandemic, with record numbers of people re-evaluating their working lives to the extent that “The Great Resignation” has become a phrase in 2021, retention of top talent has never been more important. In a competitive, candidate-driven market, an organisation’s ability to keep its key performers has moved up the agenda. With even the most loyal, passive candidates being headhunted, how do companies mitigate turnover? Competitors will of course always chase the best talent, but how can you minimise people looking to leave on their own? Salary is important, of course, and ensuring that existing staff are compensated at competitive market rates removes some temptation to look elsewhere, but keeping them happy, engaged and satisfied is a better strategy. Here are our top six tips for employee retention. The first one may be obvious after how much has changed in the world of work recently, but some of the others are often overlooked. 1. Flexible working Remote working with flexible hours fast became the norm for many businesses during the global pandemic. Employees adapted admirably – to such an extent that the majority don’t want to return to pre-pandemic working conditions. Countless surveys over the past year have shown that employees will look to leave if their existing employer doesn’t maintain its flexible approach implemented during the pandemic. From a retention perspective, providing flexibility over hours improves employee satisfaction, which not only leads to retention, but also increases an employer’s attractiveness to top talent elsewhere, some of whom have said they are willing to take a cut in salary to secure flexible working. 2. Opportunities Employee satisfaction, the main measure that aids retention, is improved when there are clear career opportunities ahead. Landing top talent isn’t enough – to retain them, they need to see a defined path ahead. Research shows that almost 75% of high-retention-risk employees leave because they see nowhere that they can go internally. Mentoring programmes, training and development are a crucial incentive and demonstrate an employer’s commitment to its employees. For those who consider it too expensive, remember how much it costs and how much time it can take to hire a replacement! 3. Culture Employers need to walk the talk in terms of their company culture. Authenticity is very important to candidates, particularly Gen Z candidates, so values and ethics cannot be just for show. It’s not enough to have the right policies in place as a formality; employees will want to see a company’s values demonstrated, from the board downwards. In terms of retention, it proves that an organisation cares about its place in the world at large and therefore on a micro level, its employees’ wellbeing, and shared values. 4. Technology All employees want to use the latest tech to enable them to do the best possible job. They want to work for an employer that is at the forefront of digital adoption rather than a dinosaur, so it’s important that an organisation frequently assesses the tools at their disposal. Tech plays a major role in a positive employee experience, right from onboarding a new member of staff, and it extends into the office environment through to support when working remotely. Providing the optimal tech to allow teams to produce their best work goes a long way towards employee satisfaction and therefore retention. 5. D&I. Exit interviews often show that a common factor for employees leaving is lacking a sense of belonging. While much has changed on a diversity front for the better, many employers still need to work on inclusion. Token diversity can be addressed with quotas and requirements, but inclusion can’t be faked. Employees need to be able to bring their true selves to work and feel that their voice is heard as it affects their confidence, performance and ultimately their job satisfaction. Incorrectly, employers often think D&I policies only apply to employees from minorities, however, any employee witnessing discrimination of any kind is likely to think less of their company and potentially look for an employer with stronger values more aligned to their own. 6. Communication Sometimes, staff retention can come down to something as simple as communication. Recognition, even if in the form of verbal positive feedback, can boost employee engagement and overall team morale. Communicating and celebrating wins can be part of a larger incentives programme too, which all enhance the employee journey and improve retention. Six things we believe can not only cut down turnover, but also make employees feel happy and valued. In the same way that a disgruntled unhappy employee is often more vocal and can tarnish an employer’s reputation when they leave, satisfied staff often become a company’s talent ambassadors. As they share their positive feelings about their employers, their work environment, and their colleagues, they unwittingly help attract the next wave of talent to an organisation. ​

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Are our digital transformations creating too much data?

​It didn’t take long for the first personal computers to run out of storage space. Today, even the most basic smartphone is much more powerful, with way more capacity than those early models. The term Big Data was coined during discussions around that time on how to harness and store the vast amount of information that was being produced daily – an amount which, compared to today’s output each second, is minuscule. It is estimated that by 2025, around 460 exabytes of data will be created each day, which would bring the total existing data to 175 zettabytes – to put those numbers into perspective, if you tried to download all of that with today’s average broadband, it would take around 1.8 billion years... Industries across almost all sectors use and benefit from data in some way. It goes far beyond the high-profile negative examples of Facebook harvesting our details to serve us personalised ads or a breach by an airline losing our email addresses. The last couple of years have seen exposure data help tackle a global pandemic and genome databases used to fast-track the development of vaccines. Unparalleled benefits to society, such as the worldwide attempts to transition to cleaner energy, would not be possible without the analysing of data. But the problem is, how do we keep up with the amount being produced?Organisations have been collecting data for some time now, but because of the amount created, the benefits are becoming harder to uncover, with a recent survey even going so far as to claim that data was at the tipping point of being more of a burden than a benefit, with employees finding their work lives becoming harder, not easier. The answer lies in an effective data strategy that can discern which data is valuable and then convert it into actionable insights to allow a business to make more informed, faster decisions. Companies with a data-driven strategy are widely believed to outperform their competitors, with Netflix, for example, claiming it saves $1bn per year on customer retention through successful data analysis. Though a significant number of companies had already embarked upon their digital transformation journeys beforehand, the global pandemic single-handedly forced the issue for the vast majority of those that hadn’t yet started. Although this was a positive in many ways, many of these journeys are still underway and already more than half of organisations believe that they have too much data to know what to do with, with the concern that many are not meeting compliance requirements because of their handling of it. While machine learning tools can help detect and discard anomaly data for many, it seems that a number of businesses feel like they are drowning.One of the issues is unstructured data (rather than structured) which already makes up 80% of enterprise data and is growing year on year. While there are applications that can digest structured data, the analytics tools for disseminating unstructured data are still in their early stages, which means organisations are leaving a lot of data untouched and potentially going to waste. This has led to the creation of data lakes – storage facilities that can hold huge amounts of raw unstructured data as well as structured – as a secure, futureproof space that can be mined as and when the tools become available. As the technology progresses, accessing vast amounts of flat file unstructured data for trends and information will be incredibly valuable for the forward-thinking businesses that are adopting data lakes.The last Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index produced some fascinating findings that support this anecdotal, overwhelming production of data. The report warned that the overload of data was the third highest barrier to digital transformation, but that 71% of businesses were still collecting data faster than they could analyse it. And while 64% of businesses surveyed claimed to be data-driven in their approach, only 23% prioritised its use across their business. The Dell Index was a timely reminder about digital transformation best practice for everyone. A successful digital transformation needs its foundations in a data strategy, with goals in place for analysing data, leveraging the findings and using the insight effectively for decision making. If you are in the midst of a digital transformation, or need advice on how to take it to the next stage, contact us today.​​

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First Steps for a Newly Qualified ACA

​While being a newly qualified ACA is certainly cause for celebration, the immediate career options ahead of you can often seem quite daunting now that you’re suddenly in such demand with your qualification. This is likely to be the first time there is a defined fork in the road with options in different directions, and the decisions you make at this stage could affect the rest of your career. Therefore, it’s worth spending some time to get them right, as well as talking to a specialist independent recruitment consultant to seek their advice and guidance. The most common dilemma is whether to make the move into industry from practice. We’ve blogged before about hearing, “I want a commercial role” from dozens of NQs who don’t really know what they mean beyond the grass is probably greener in commerce and that they want a role with as little financial reporting as possible. While it’s true that some candidates know exactly where they want to go, the majority don’t have an exact path mapped out and while they think they want to move into industry, it’s not always the best option (which is why around half of them don’t!). Staying in practice:Your current firm will want to keep you, so it’s worth discussing what they can offer and how your career might advance were you to stay where you are, whether that be bigger clients, increased responsibility, or more challenging work.You may see a more interesting career ahead with another firm, which would also offer a new challenge and a new working environment, though you will most likely need to navigate around a counteroffer from your employer, as they won’t want to lose you to a competitor.If you feel you have focused in one area for a long time, a change of specialism, either internally or with another practice, could be the best move for you and now is the right time to switch into something that interests you.Moving to commerce:It’s important to remember that several roles will still involve a degree or reporting and depending on the size of the company you join, you could be doing everything, including the mundane elements you were hoping to leave behind. That said, there is a wide range of roles to consider when moving into commerce and now is a good time to consider your long-term goals and choose a move that will set you on the right path. A Group Accountant role offers a top-down overview of how a business operates with plenty of interaction with senior management. A Financial Accountant role is more suited for someone looking to apply their technical knowledge and is a strong first move in the direction of Financial Controller.A Management Accountant sits within a head office Finance team and provides the financial information that will enable the leadership team to make strategic business decisions. A role in Financial Planning & Analysis is for the more commercially minded NQ who can analyse a company’s finances for anomalies, trends, and deviations.Size and culture:Leaving practice can include a huge culture change that can be unnerving for some. You will have worked alongside other similarly qualified people but depending on the size of the business you join, you could be on your own doing everything, or a small fish in a big pond doing one thing. There are pros and cons to consider for large and small organisations.Large multinationals or blue-chip companies often have better resources, a defined career path, and come with nice benefits and salary, but while the security of an established brand is a positive, career progress can be slow, and you may not have access or involvement with many senior figures. As one member of a large Finance function your role may not have much variety and you could feel like your efforts aren’t having a tangible impact.An SME, on the other hand, can offer an accelerated career path and a much more hands-on role where you will interact with senior managers and be at the heart of the business. The downside might be its distinct culture and personality fit, and limited mentoring and development programs. It can also be tougher to move into a large organization later. Culture at large and smaller businesses is driven from the top, so an important consideration is who you will be working for and with. Researching line managers and how other people have progressed at a company isn’t always easy but is something a recruitment company is well placed to help with, so if you have recently qualified and want to learn more about what moves are open to you in the current market, or want advice on your next move or getting your CV into shape, talk to us today.

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