Strategy is a garbage in, garbage out exercise. Executives often complain about a lack of good data, but we consistently find information that is useful in the formation of strategy.
We once worked with a Vistage member who was trying to quantify the value of various segments served. By accessing the public records of a nearby port, we were able to quantify actual shipments of merchandise by potential customers.
One key element in the preparation of any request for proposal (RFP) for outsourced services is the collection of data: both service volumes and financial data. This information will provide the foundation of the proposals prepared by the service providers and will be used in the business case that is a key part of the decision to either outsource or retain a service. The accuracy of the information gathered will have a significant impact on the success or failure of the initiative. Data collection errors can lead to a decision to retain a service that could be provided more efficiently through a third-party service provider, or vice versa. Additionally, erroneous data can lead to significant cost overruns after the signing of an outsourcing agreement that affect both the service provider and client. This paper highlights the keys to a successful data collection initiative and provides insight on ways to test and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data gathered.