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Episode 7 – Andrew Andrews

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#SeriouslySocial The Podcast

with Simone Douglas and special guest Andrew Andrews


Chris Irving 0:00
Welcome to the Seriously Social Podcast with your host, Simone Douglas. Our guest this episode is Andrew Andrews from the Data Management Association. He and Simone discussed cyber security, the importance of good data management, and how to turn your data into an asset.

Simone Douglas 0:19
Today on the Seriously Social Podcast, I’m joined by Andrew Andrews longtime friend and business associate. I think we’ve known each other for at least eight years now for longer. Andrew is from the Data Management Association of South Australia or South Australian branch. So thanks for coming in today.

Andrew Andrews 0:38
Thanks Simone I’m so thrilled to be here.

Simone Douglas 0:41
Yeah, it’s been really nice to catch up.

Andrew Andrews 0:43

Simone Douglas 0:43
So maybe you can start by just a bit of an overview because I had never heard of the Data Management Association. So it started in the US in 1988, and a group of data practitioners got together and started writing stuff about what they knew would be true and correct and they started a movement, basically started an international movement 33 years ago, and, and it’s evolved and expanded around the world. 50-60 chapters around the world, including Australia, and then there’s branches in each country. And it’s a not for profit of people who practice data who practice managing data. It’s a community group to help represent the industry, to organisations and to government, as well as to inform to inform other people who actually work with data on how they should best manage data. So ultimately, the Association built this framework for a framework and the textbook 600 page textbook called the (unclear) Data Management body of knowledge, and it’s a step by step guide on everything to do with the way an organisation should manage data and access and use it and all those things.

Yeah, cool.

Andrew Andrews 2:04
It’s, it’s it’s a bible of people who work with data.

Simone Douglas 2:07
So I have three organisations that I technically managed data for.

Andrew Andrews 2:12

Simone Douglas 2:13
In theory.

Andrew Andrews 2:14

Simone Douglas 2:15
And I don’t think I’d be alone in that perception of like as business owners we think that we. Well, we think that we are collecting data, we certainly are accumulating lots of data. What do you think is the biggest challenge for the modern day business owner when it comes to all those kind of data segments?

Andrew Andrews 2:36
Well, there’s a couple of challenges. Firstly, that if you’re managing data, you’re and it’s managing data on behalf of people, your customers or your vendors or suppliers or anything like that, there’s a set of principles that any person who’s managing data needs to abide by and that’s privacy, privacy first absolutely essential because if you have a privacy breach that actually distracts you or distracts from a brand, your brand because people lose confidence in providing new data. So, so there’s an issue of ensuring that whatever data is provided to you is kept confidential and safe and secure and all those things. Because we all do work on the internet now that the issue of cyber security and the hacking and virus protection and all those things is even more so important today as it as it ever has, and people that actually the terrorists in the digital space who who invade your systems, position value systems, and then hack your data and ask you for paying bitcoin to unencrypt your data. That’s a big threat. Sure any business owners needs to ensure that they’ve got the virus scanning software, all the security protocols, firewalls, all that sort of stuff that you should have to make sure you keep your data safe and secure. The other thing that’s critical is assuming that you’ve got a private, secure and safe and all those things, the next question for business owner is how do you convert data into something that’s a valuable asset for your business?

Simone Douglas 4:20

Andrew Andrews 4:21
I mean, that’s, that’s ultimately you collect data for purposes to collect data to transact. But ultimately, you’re creating data, which gives you a representation of what’s going on in your business, anyone’s business. And the trick is, is how do you interpret the data that you collect into something that’s meaningful and actionable for a business owner? and to the point where you can detect you can read the signals in your data without actually having to physically be in your business, watching your business every day.

Simone Douglas 4:49

Andrew Andrews 4:50
If you’re able to understand your data well enough to know what’s going on, and maybe using the data to help inform what your next decision is going to be.

Simone Douglas 4:59

Andrew Andrews 5:00
And that’s a critical thing, especially for businesses, especially for yourself as an entrepreneur who’s running multiple businesses, you’re not physically able to be in front of your business every day. So therefore, you use your data as a way of helping you protect and monitor your business. So it’s, so there’s a click data for small to medium businesses, it’s knowing what reports look at.

Simone Douglas 5:24

Andrew Andrews 5:25
Right understanding what the reports mean, and whether they’re actually sensible with what’s going on in the real world in your business.

Simone Douglas 5:32
How do you think for you – educate yourself as a business owner around that? I think that as a really big challenge for most we look at South Australia, it’s built predominantly, I suppose on two key industries really like government, and small business ..

Andrew Andrews 5:46
That’s right

Simone Douglas 5:47
So you know, like in the scheme of things as a small business owner, so if I went back to when I had one business, my first business, I hadn’t to worry about all these things, you know, we have such a lack of education and information as business owners as to what, what we need to look for, what kinds of data inputs we should be looking at, we really rely on our accountant, accounting software. But you know, having had a number of businesses yourself and being involved in consulting for a number of businesses, what would you say are the critical success factors, we have to get our head around.

Andrew Andrews 6:25
So let’s assume you’re using Xero or one of the accounting packages already in place, and they’re really great products already, and they’ve got hundreds of thousands of users and they generate all hot reports that come out of that are informed of the entire user base. So I really would recommend any product that you buy in the same accounting system or point of sale system if you’re running a pub or a CRM if you’re running a service based business, look at the reports that are coming out of the product. Use those reports come out of the system because those reports are built on a basis of knowledge from a customer base.

Simone Douglas 7:06

Andrew Andrews 7:07
So therefore, they’re they become a template for your business, so use those templates and try and understand what those templates mean. If you look at a report and you say, I don’t really understand this, speak to the vendor and product design what does this mean? How does this work? How do you interpret this data? It’s important that a business owner takes the time and makes the investment to understand what they’re getting out of the product. So then, then, then other people, and this is this is purely individual decision. Some people take the raw data that comes out of these products and then drop it into Excel let’s say, start graphing and start generating your own graph. It would take if you if you really keen, you could hire an analyst or someone to work part-time to actually take a data scientist or someone who’s done data uni to actually take some of that data and reimagine it for your business, or businesses. You can have a combination of both, so if you’re running, say, you’re running three businesses, and they’re all sitting on Xero but in different accounts, and you want to integrate the two, the three together to see what’s actually happening across the whole across the whole lot. So you get, you get the data out and pop it into three spreadsheets, and then you’ve got to somehow reconcile it so that it all makes sense across the three, and then you can do some graphing across that individually, and the question is, the question is not being able to access the data or not being able to form it correctly, because that’s only really a simple thing is knowing what questions you want to ask the data.

Simone Douglas 8:51

Andrew Andrews 8:52
Having the right quick … knowing what the right question is, what the question looks like first is probably the more important than the data itself.

Simone Douglas 9:00

Andrew Andrews 9:00
So it needs … business owners need to be more inquisitive about their own businesses and look at their data as the data collected to actually know what questions they want to ask the systems or the person that’s analysing the data. And you know, in the old days are not that long ago, really, most business owners rely upon their accountants. And I think the accountant sector has been really slow to adjust to the technologies that are available the accounting sector it needs to push harder to actually be more interpretive, getting out of these systems and not rely on being compliant and just hope for the best and doing your end of the month P and L, because a p&l does not inform you on what really is going on your business.

Simone Douglas 9:55
Do you think like so when it comes to accountants, and I have mixed opinions. I love my current account, but he’s my third one, and I interviewed six before I hired him. But they’ll give you what you ask for often like, so, when I sat down with Kevin, I said, What I need is management accounting advice proactive, not reactive, so I don’t want a management accounting report at the end of the quarter that tells me that I stuffed up. This is too late. What I want is someone to go, I’ve run your reports for the month. These are the concerning things, and he does that really well. Like I don’t get graphs, but I literally get bullet points with green ticks and red crosses.

Andrew Andrews 10:44
As a dashboard.

Simone Douglas 10:44

Andrew Andrews 10:45
Like a dashboard thing. Yeah.

Simone Douglas 10:46
Absolutely. And it’s just really when you time poor, that’s really simple because then I have I can just go green, green, green, red, right. Okay. Yeah, I’ve already actioned that’s fine.

Andrew Andrews 10:57
I really think it accountants as a profession, and any advisor needs to need to spend more time focusing on what questions need to be asked from the data from the information that the business owner holds. It’s not always in the in the accounting system not in the pub system. It could be, for example, a real good metric of any business is to monitor the complaint, handling complaints.

Simone Douglas 11:25
That you receive.

Andrew Andrews 11:26
That you receive. Yeah. So does a business owner should a business owner keep a spreadsheet of all the complaints that they get.

Simone Douglas 11:32

Andrew Andrews 11:33
You know, that anything that all of that feedback?

Simone Douglas 11:35
Yeah, all the Google reviews that you get how many stars

Andrew Andrews 11:38
All of that, so there are tools out there that actually can scan for that sort of stuff and be push your stuff that you need to hear or see. Yeah. So there’s, there’s there’s a whole bunch of information we’re in fact flooded with information it’s knowing how to pick out the good stuff from all the noise, and and then knowing to collect what knowing how collect it and what it means and your, your financial advisor, your business advisor, your accountant should be expert enough to help you ask the right questions, and then form the dashboards with you.

Simone Douglas 12:13

Andrew Andrews 12:16
I wouldn’t want you know, when I deal with my accountant or anyone I want to make sure I understand anything that’s inside this dashboard or anything that if it says it’s green, I know why. Yeah, if it says it’s amber or red, I know why as well.

Simone Douglas 12:30

Andrew Andrews 12:30
And, and it’s really important to be that precise, I think, and …

Simone Douglas 12:36
You have to be able to trust the data, that’s the thing. So if you understand the dashboard, then I find I can I trust what’s in it more and then I’m more quick to make the business decisions that I have to make.

Andrew Andrews 12:48
Sure, sure. And then you can then focus your time with your accountant, focus on on exceptions on things that duobful or need specific advice, focus your time on the on the problems rather than the routine. If you know things are going well in certain areas, just focus on the stuff that really matters, and I remember I saw your post a little infographic about the things that you can control the things you can’t control. Let the data help you on what you can control on the things that you control. Let the data tell you what that is, and what it should look like. Yeah. And so simple, simple things. And I think that the trick is that most business owners in small medium businesses don’t spend enough time working on their business. They spend their time working in their business. If you use your data right, you can actually get you can disconnect from the day-to day and actually start looking at your the measures, the metrics in your business. Yeah.

Simone Douglas 13:54
That makes a huge business tick. That’s a huge difference to your growth in your business. The minute that you can take that step back and really focus on, instead of in. I know for myself, that’s when my businesses start to elevate, and I start to put on more staff.

Andrew Andrews 14:11
Now, over the last 10 years I’ve had two different stints on the franchise council board here in South Australia in the businesses that I’ve run and most franchisees rely on their franchisor to make those decisions for them, because when you buy a franchise you get some reporting that comes with being a franchisee. I, I’ve got this thing that I would as a franchisee, If I were franchisee I wouldn’t always rely on the stuff that’s been brought to me by a franchisor. I think as a franchisee you’ve got to elevate yourself above what the franchise thinks is the standard model on how to run a business and so I think that’s skill too … be teaching franchisees on how to run their own businesses. I don’t think we spend enough time helping them understand how to run with the data that they’re getting.

Simone Douglas 15:11
I agree with you on that. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s such a big opportunity, and one of my businesses is a franchise. So, you know, based on the information that you get,like, I get a plethora of reports, in fact, I even dropped this morning so for the month, but I’ve ended up going away and generating my own reports and spreadsheets, that actually tracks the things that I want to track.

Andrew Andrews 15:38
Exactly. That’s, that’s my thing right? So you want to be more in touch with your own franchise operations, so and, you know, you’ve been informed enough to know that what you’re getting straight out of the box isn’t working for you so you’re going to invent your own stats to see what you think is the right measures. Yeah? And I think that’s you know, that’s why I get excited about data because data is the new gold. It’s the it’s it’s what the 21st century will grow based on our data. Data that we collect. We now have a sea of data and we’re getting it just grows exponentially everyday. You know, this whole COVID thing, we’re now flooded every day we’ve got about about now, that’s actually, you know, with all the negativity that comes with COVID, what it has helped me is actually tells people every day that the data, using the data can actually change people’s lives.

Simone Douglas 16:35
Yeah, very true.

Andrew Andrews 16:36
And every time we hit we’re hit with new stories, here’s here’s the infection rates, the transmission rates, you know, all of that we’re actually thrown data every day, and that’s actually a really good thing because I think, as much as it’s been a pandemic, but the good thing is that it’s actually taught us the data served to you on a daily basis is important.

Simone Douglas 16:58
Yeah, absolutely.

Andrew Andrews 17:00
If we could transfer that into the way we run our businesses business run more efficiently, more effectively, if we’re taught if people get into the discipline of using data for that purpose,

Simone Douglas 17:12
I think that’s a really good point to end on, actually. So in this scheme of things I think, exactly that if we get in the habit of looking at our data on a daily basis in our busniesses and making informed decisions based on that. We’re going to have a very healthy local economy, which is definitely something we need for growth. Yeah, so thanks very much, Andrew, for joining me today on the red chairs.

Andrew Andrews 17:37
Thanks Simone.

Simone Douglas 17:37
And I will look forward to catching up with you over lunch or coffee really soon.

Andrew Andrews 17:41
Anytime, pleasure. Really, really good. Thank you.

Chris Irving 17:47
Thank you for listening to the seriously social podcast. See our website for more details at Check the show notes, the credits music used in the program and more details about our guests.

Andrew started writing computer programs in two languages APL and BASIC on IBM mainframes in the mid seventies at age 14. He is now is a senior business technology executive with over 35 years professional experience, and has started and exited several technology businesses, he has a unique blend of skills and expertise that includes executive management, mobile app development, data warehousing, business intelligence, stakeholder engagement, ICT/Data governance, marketing, media, strategy and entrepreneurship. He has consulted extensively to Government, Not For Profit and Private sector clients across Australia and New Zealand.

Recently he was the founding Data Governance Manager at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission(ACCC)/Australian Energy Regulator (AER), and currently leads the SA Branch of Data Management Australia ( and is a member of the national committee. Andrew is passionate about using international data management frameworks like Data Management Body of Knowledge (DMBoK) and Data Management Maturity Model (DMM) to assist enterprises and government agencies manage their data more efficiently.

In his volunteer life he has been working in community radio for most of his adult life across various roles of producer/presenter at 3D Radio 93.7Mhz and WOWFM 100.5, cofounder of Dance100, and past chairman of board and life member of Fresh927. For last 6 years he has been a volunteer on the management committee of the Foundation for Hellenic Studies.

Links to his social media accounts and volunteer community interests are found here:

Podcasts and Videos:
Podcast for The Adelaide Show on Data Ethics and Privacy March2020, link here.
Meet the Mentors interview at Start-up Weekend Adelaide 2013, link to video is found here.

Introduction to data podcast episode for the Auscast Network September 2020, link here.


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