How we used data to manage everything
The Titan Story Part 5/6, by Tariq Muhammad, CEO
When a business reaches a large scale or is growing fast, even small issues become magnified. Often you can’t see the wood from the trees and very soon, the management team is left fire-fighting curve balls from every direction. They could be financial, operational, clinical, professional or technical. Never was this more true than in the years of operating Pharmacy Plus. I wish I could say I was in control of my business at all times, but I’d be lying if I did. Most of the time, I’d be faced with the consequences, long after the problem had occurred. Worse still, it would take me a good while to work out the root cause.
I needed a weapon in the war against business problems. The good news was that I was in control of my technology, my systems and my processes which gave me access all my business data. Business data is like a gold mine - with a bit of digging eventually you strike gold.
On one occasion, I remember becoming concerned about the number of staff we were hiring in the dispensary. It felt like we were just employing more and more people every time we were recruiting business. When I asked the managers, they told me how busy things were and we needed staff to meet our delivery schedules. When I looked at the staff, they all looked busy – no one looked like they were slacking, but we simply couldn’t afford to keep adding head count.
I decided to create a central repository of all our data and overlay this with an analytics tool. The processes we had created meant that we had a time stamp of every activity throughout the dispensing process, and who had done every task. I worked out the time difference between the start and finish of each activity and the time delay between one task and the next. I put this on a chart and mapped it against each member of staff. I mapped the times against the drugs we dispensed. I analysed the drugs we dispensed to the customers we supplied.
The data told me that 30% of my staff were doing 70% of the work. The data told me when and where the pinch points were. The data told me my most profitable customers. Seeing this data was like being introduced to my business for the first time. The data was like having a business guru sitting next to me telling me how to run a business. The analytics were to my business what an X-Ray was to a doctor.
The Business Intelligence that we built in Pharmacy Plus allowed us to make decisions that we otherwise would never have even thought about. I went from a position of making educated guesses about things to fact driven conclusions with pin-point accuracy. In this way, we targeted certain types of customers that would make us profit, employed certain types of people that would get the job done and operated in a certain type of way that would be the fastest, safest and most efficient.
Once you’ve seen the light, it’s very hard to imagine life in the dark. Although I solved so many of my challenges by creating an analytics platform, I often wonder how other pharmacy businesses manage with not knowing what they don’t know. Imagine how different it would be if they too could see the light.