Play with the Data = Learn the Data
author: Lee Buttolph
At my former company we sold a commodity product (lumber/plywood) and to keep up with the pricing we subscribed to a pricing publication that sent us updated pricing on a weekly basis.
This data was used as the basis for how much we paid for and sold our products. This data was vitally important to how we worked.
I could have tasked my office manager to manually type hundreds of pricing points into our ERP system every week. Instead, I would come in every weekend and type that data in myself.
Why would I waste my time with such a task? Didn't I have anything better to do with my time as an owner?
The reason I typed it myself was because I got to learn the data at an intimate level. I learned when a product had been going up in price quickly but was now slowing down, meaning it may be about to go back down in price. I learned what product prices moved in unison and what went in opposite directions.
Knowing this at such an intimate level was crucial to trying to gain an extra point of margin in a commodity business where every 1% move meant the difference between making money and losing money.
If you are awash in data, gets your hands dirty with the actual numbers. Don't always rely on charts and graphs created by someone else (or even worse automation) to tell you the story.