By Jack Siegman
Trends aren’t easy to see while in the middle of ministry, or even by viewing reports or spreadsheets.
But the fact is, your data tells a story.
What story is your data telling? Are you using that story to make informed strategic decisions? And more important: are you able to understand the story the data is trying to tell you?
Data analytics can help you lead stronger in three specific ways:
- Uncover hidden trends
- Ask better questions
- Make informed and strategic decisions
As a leader, it’s natural to rely on a variety of sources for guidance when making strategic decisions. You’ll likely begin with prayer. Seek the council of other leaders. Get input from key volunteers or subject matter experts. Maybe even just follow your gut — but be careful, because your gut might be the Holy Spirit speaking to you, or it might just be that poor food choice from the night before.
Become a stronger leader and make wise, informed decisions by including data analytics in your decision-making process. Data is important to God, and it should be important to you as a leader. It’s important because of what (and more importantly, who) that data represents.
While including data in the decision-making process has obvious merits, being able to understand the story the data is trying to tell you is like helping your teenager with his math homework. It feels like it should make sense … but, it doesn’t quite click.
That’s where the use of data analytics comes into the equation. (No pun intended)
For example, how do you determine the health of your children’s ministry when trying to make strategic decisions for managing that ministry, moving forward. Without the use of data analytics, any decisions you make most likely will come from a feeling, or from a general consensus.
But, properly analyzing the data opens up the ability to look at the facts. Also, don’t confuse the ability to collect and track data with data analytics. Properly collecting and tracking data can produce reports and begin to tell a story; but data analytics is required to understand the story the data is trying to tell.
Uncover hidden trends
Analyzing the data enables you to uncover patterns or trends, removing the need to react, guess or rely on intuition. While your gut tells you the children’s ministry is healthy, the data analytics story tells you that your children’s ministry is rapidly trending up and that you need to begin preparing.
Ask better questions
Analyzing the data prompts you to ask questions you might otherwise ignore.
- What other factors contributed to attendance increasing the last few weeks?
- Are other factors playing a role?
While volunteers are telling you that rooms are nearing capacity and they will soon need additional resources, the data analytics story tells you that attendance is similar to the same period of time from last year and will soon level out.
Make informed and strategic decisions
Analyzing the data prompts you to look at the complete story, not just the one side that is in front of you. Your gut feeling, the opinion of others, or factors you see in real time can point you in the direction you want to go. While those points of data are telling you a story, are they allowing you to make informed and strategic decisions?
One way we solve this problem at FellowshipOne is with our Visualizer Dashboard Reporting.
This feature opens up the ability to view your data in an easy to read, easy-to-use, easy-to-act-on format. This allows you to include data in the decision-making process. Visualizer takes the work out of searching for trends and can be automatically emailed out to other leaders. And the best part is that this dashboard analyzing tool is fully integrated with FellowshipOne — no need to export data from one system to the next.
Go beyond translating reports and spreadsheets, and begin seeing the data that matters to your ministry.
Once you can understand the story your data is trying to tell you and begin including it in the decision-making process, you are on your way to becoming a stronger leader!
Jack Siegman, Director of Professional Services for FellowshipOne, has been with the company for 10 years. He currently lives in Edmond, Okla., with his wife, Kayla, and their three kids. Jack is passionate about working with churches to leverage technology to empower their staff and grow the kingdom.