How to Boost Your Firm’s Profitability through Data-Driven Decision Making with Kate Eberle

How much value do you put on visibility and business operations? These two are essential for sustainable business growth, especially for firms. However, this can be challenging if you don’t have a plan and the proper tools. Fortunately, through consistent tracking, leveraging business intelligence tools, and focusing on critical KPIs, you can make data-driven decisions to enhance operational efficiency.

In this episode, Kate Eberle joins us to talk about the transformative power of business intelligence. She shares valuable insights about understanding your business better and manually monitoring operational processes. Kate also discusses the crucial role of BI in making data-driven decisions that lead to increased profitability.

If you’re seeking practical ways to steer your businesses toward success, be sure to tune in to this episode.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Discover how to enhance efficiency through data-driven decision making.
  2. Learn the power of manual tracking and CRM tools to improve business operations.
  3. Gain valuable insights to increase profit margin.


Episode Highlights

About Kate 

  • Kate Eberle started in the nonprofit sector with AmeriCorps before moving to consulting. She specializes in data analytics. 
  • She now serves as the Director of Consulting at Blue Margin Inc. 
  • Data is crucial in securing funding and support for goals. Realizing this, she pursued a Master’s degree in Public Affairs with a focus on statistics.

Kate: “One of the things I’ve realized very quickly was that without data to back up your aspirations and your ideals, it just falls really flat in terms of getting more funding, getting people on board with whatever you’re hoping to achieve.”

  • Outside work, Kate has a passion for soccer and has been playing since she was young. 

Visibility and Understanding Operations

  • Many organizations struggle with the pain point of lacking visibility and understanding of their business.
  • There are now efficient ways to gain visibility and understand your business better.

Starting Points to Understand Your Business Better

  • You need to monitor the productivity, billable hours, and performance of timekeepers consistently. This is essential for efficient operations. 
  • It is also important to evaluate the timeliness of payment collection.
  • Businesses must assess their progress in cultivating new opportunities.

Why You Should Track Processes

  • Develop the habit of tracking your progress and processes manually.
  • Once you’re familiar with manual tracking, look into incorporating CRM tools into your workflow.

Kate: “You could spend all the money in the world on a Salesforce implementation. [But] if your team isn’t using it consistently, and you don’t have the process discipline, it’s all going to break apart.” 

  • Historical data analysis and pipeline growth tracking are essential in business. Tools like a data warehouse or Power BI are valuable for these.

Puzzling the Pieces Together

  • Before implementing CRM tools, conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis to assess its necessity.
  • Approach every technology investment as if it were a business case.
  • Explore leading platforms like AWS, Google, and Azure. They have a user-friendly design and the ability to streamline business processes.

Kate: “There are a lot of very custom solutions that like to think that they’re templatized. But what we almost always find is that you have to customize to an environment because your sources are unique to you. You manage them differently than other firms do.”

Business Intelligence and Manual Calculation

  • Business intelligence (BI) is using technology and strategies to gather, analyze, and present data. The data is then used to make better business decisions. 
  • It includes examining various data sources within a company, like databases, CRM systems, and market data.
  • However, legal CRM systems lack complete BI capabilities. Businesses have to rely on alternative methods, like manual calculations.

Kate: “It’s really easy to come off as bashing the manual work, but I think that's where you learn a lot about your business. Then you can talk about making and solidifying that to support future growth with technology.”

Using Excel and BI 

  • When a company experiences increased complexity, it is the ideal time to adopt BI. 

Kate: “As the complexity increases, that’s where you see the value of automating, eliminating that manual lift. Because you also start to see a proliferation of different versions of the truth.” 

  • Some companies haven't reached the necessary complexity for BI. In these cases, Kate recommends to start by manually tracking information through Excel.

On Important KPIs 

Moshe: “Even if you don’t have the nuances of what you need to track, there’s two numbers that every single business needs to track. And that’s the number of leads and number of clients.”

  • Lead and client numbers are essential KPIs when tracking goal achievement.
  • In addition, tracking pricing allows for assessing profitability levels.
  • It is also important to keep a close eye on revenue, expenses, and profit margin.
  • Moshe recommends aiming for an ideal profit margin ranging from 35% to 50%.

Increasing Your Profit Margin 

  • Improve operational efficiency by analyzing staff allocation. Then, identify opportunities to streamline business processes.
  • Assess time trends to gauge the time it takes departments and staff members to complete their tasks.
  • There is often a disparity between billable hours and cash collected.
  • Calculate your expected revenue metric. Then, compare it with the actual cash collected to identify discrepancies.

Enhance Profitability through Data-driven Decision Making

  • Analyzing your figures provides crucial insights into concessions and write-offs given to clients. This facilitates effective profitability management.
  • Consistent review of KPIs and financial data reveals the long-term consequences of decisions made in the moment. 

Kate: “Until you start looking at those numbers and KPIs over time, what feels like an in-the-moment decision, you can’t see the impact of that and just how deeply it’s cutting into your profitability, till you get that discipline.” 

  • Developing data analysis discipline showcases profitability impact.. It empowers you with informed choices and stronger negotiation positions.

Kate’s Advice 

  • Just get started.
  • Take the leap and start digging into your data.
  • Don't be afraid to dedicate time to analyzing your business operations. 

About Kate

Kate Eberle earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University, and a BA in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound. She began her career in the nonprofit sector, serving two years with AmeriCorps in Indianapolis. Following that, she worked five years as a consultant with Grant Thornton in Washington D.C., where she managed data analytics projects for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. In 2020, Kate returned home to Fort Collins and now applies her data experience and management expertise to benefit Blue Margin’s corporate and legal clientele.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Kate has a lifelong passion for soccer. She has been playing competitively since childhood.

You can connect with Kate through LinkedIn.

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