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What is data-driven decision making?
As we recently noted, terms like ‘big data’ or ‘data-driven’ have become buzz-words in recent times , and through common use - or rather, overuse - can lose something of their meaning.
There’s a lot to unpack in what ‘data-driven decision making’ means, but in simple terms, it’s the process of using your data to inform the decisions made by your organisation. Data-driven decision making, then, is about using the best evidence to support your organisation’s strategic direction, rather than relying on intuition, guesswork or ‘gut-feeling’.
In practice, that data needs to be collected, organised, verified and analysed - often using business tools or reporting software - of which there are many  - all of which may pose a challenge if using older, disjointed paper-based systems that rely on information pulled from a number of different sources.
Which is just one of the many reasons why attaining a single source of truth for your organisation is vital if you are to remain ‘data-driven’.
A single source of truth is obtained by creating a single destination for all of your information - all of the aggregated data held within your systems within a single location, providing an easily accessible, single point of reference for all users .
An integrated cemetery management system - one that incorporates its own reporting tools and dashboards that provide quick and easy real time data analysis is one highly efficient way in which deathcare service providers can achieve that.
Learn more about the benefits of a single source of truth.
Why is it a good idea to be data-driven?
There are many benefits to data-driven decision making. At a top line level, removing intuition or guesswork also removes personal bias, meaning that your decisions become more objective, and based on facts and evidence, helping to ensure that they’re more accurate. Identifying trends or patterns over time will also allow you to not only gain a deeper understanding of any issues you may be facing, but also put plans in place to overcome them.
Analysing data can also help you to become more efficient and improve processes within your organisation - helping you to manage time and resources in the most effective way.
Aside from these factors, data-driven decision making will ultimately allow you to set measurable goals  and objectives, and in doing so, become more strategic in your approach. Looking at past performance will let you see where your spend or your focus needs to be, and in looking at outcomes you can see what actions you need to take.
What does this mean for deathcare providers?
With all of that in mind, we can start to see the real world applications for cemeteries, crematories and funeral homes. Let’s think about just some of the data they hold. Burial records, deeds, contracts, maps, inventory and operational data, financials, demographics, CRM, and sales, to name just a few.
All of that, separately and together paints a complete picture of an organisation. What it has, what it does and how successfully it’s doing it.
How many families or customers do we serve? Who is using our services? When are they using them? What’s their preferred method of interment? How much are they spending? How long do we spend on tasks? When are we busiest? What space do we have left?
Used in the right way, your data will help provide answers to questions that will help to align your entire team around strategic goals and objectives, and allow you to measure success. With that in mind, here are 3 practical ways data-driven decision making can benefit deathcare providers.
#1 Planning and resource management
Land availability continues to be an important issue for many cemeteries, and where space is ultimately finite, how can you mitigate and plan for the inevitable? A good place to start is to know exactly what you have in terms of your inventory and how quickly you are running out of it.
Being able to view and report on the rate at which you’re selling inventory - whether month to month or year to year, will allow you to plan ahead and look at options for maximising the space currently available, or to take appropriate measures, such as reviewing the release of pre-paid plots.
Read more about managing your inventory.
In a similar way, looking at areas such as grave occupancy, schedules of maintenance, time taken on tasks etc. will help to plan out resources, and ensure they are being used most effectively.
#2 Customer service and engagement
Knowing exactly who your families or customers are is one of the best ways to ensure you are meeting their needs and engaging with them in the best way possible.
Information, for example, on the demographics of those who are engaging with you, or more specifically who isn’t, can tell you where you may need to direct your marketing efforts. What does that breakdown look like? Are there certain sections of the community that you’re not reaching and what might you do to address that?
Data on factors such as which interment options are most popular, or what kind of leases are being taken out will also allow you to understand preferences, enabling you to provide services that are more personalised. You can also start to ask yourself, what can you be doing to meet those needs and where do your efforts need to be focused?
Data provided via CRM tools are also a great way of tracking engagement, providing you with information on how, when and from where people are finding you and where in the process might they be dropping off. You can then use this information to tailor your approach, ensuring that you’re reaching the right customers with the right products and services. At the right time.
#3 Sales and revenue
And speaking of Customer Relationship Management tools, the visibility they provide of your entire sales pipeline, and of sales performance in general, can help you to understand which techniques are working best for you - and just as importantly, which aren’t. You can then adapt your sales strategy and refocus your efforts on what’s working and address what isn’t.
Again, looking at buying preferences or buying trends over time will also help you to see if your sales strategy is working. Are you seeing more at-need sales than pre-need, for example? Is that percentage split changing over time and does it reflect what you want it to be?
Taking that further, drilling deeper down into the detail of things such as pricing, sales or contract value may also help you to look for opportunities to increase your revenue.
 Data-Driven Decision Making: A Primer for Beginners
K Miller, Northeastern Graduate Programs Aug 2019
 Top 15 Business Intelligence Tools in 2022: An overview
E.G. Haije, mopinion Apr 2022
 What is a single source of truth?
 Data-driven decision making: A step-by-step guide
Team Asana, Jul 2022
Like to learn more on maximising your data? Read our blog on 3 quick cemetery reports here.