Can less data help to create more value? 

Many of us are wasting time and money on dysfunctional data. The loss is much greater than these resources however. Thinking you know something when you really do not is a recipe for disaster, especially when conditions are uncertain. 

With considerable and growing amounts of sustainability data, it can be hard for managers to determine where to focus attention – especially when so much data are complex, anecdotal, or unreliable for decision making. This goes beyond “Measuring What Matters” to “having an understanding of what we do with data to make it really functional” notes Matthew Himmel, Director of Strategic Intelligence Systems. “When data works, it makes it much more likely to get results and to see the actual ROI of your efforts.”

If you honestly assess the kind of data you are getting, you may find that ‘less is more’ and can then focus on the kind of data that will give you the results you want. In many cases, you will find that you can probably eliminate useless data and dedicate resources to data that can make a difference.

There are 3 advantages to measuring only what matters. 

  1. Improve your understanding of what’s relevant in your program or supply chain by starting first with the strategic objective in mind. Then applying well-considered, science-based metrics with a tight focus can transform your results. COSA and its global partnerships have invested in hundreds of thousands of surveys and global research to learn what can be readily measured and how to get a clear ROI.
    1. When the measurements are consistently standardized, they can help enormously to achieve clarity and learning.
    2. The right data can drive continuous improvement and even accountability.
    3. Data are more dependable and more credible when the metrics are globally validated for full alignment with the dozens of international accords and agreements that apply – such as ILO for Labor or IPCC for climate.
  1. Engaging data intelligence improves your performance and helps minimize risks. It helps to better target limited resources to achieve strategic results, not just tactical compliance. Measuring actual sustainability performance is the quickest way to see if your efforts are having an impact and allow serious organizations to go beyond the “train them again” syndrome to get real results.
  2. Reduce costs. Measuring what matters can reduce time spent organizing, analyzing, and collecting data. FOr example, by applying lean risk algorithms, e-verification, and results-based management, you can streamline decisions and even audits. With integrated data visualizations, your reporting and sustainability communication take on new dimensions of effectiveness with almost no added cost.

One of the main challenges of assessing sustainability in agriculture is its inherent complexity. But that does not mean you have to turn it into a complicated science project. To reveal the necessary facts, COSA can selectively employ any of hundreds of indicators that have been developed and field tested with input from hundreds of stakeholder groups including scientists, farmer groups, NGOs and standards bodies, private companies, and development agencies.

You can easily increase your effectiveness, more quickly, and with fewer resources when you understand how to measure what really matters. We make indicators freely available as a contribution to the public good because we believe that you can make a significant difference when you go beyond just data and graduate to create valuable intelligence

Read more like this: Four ways that Smart Data will make your tech solutions smarter.