When building our loss prevention program interpreting the meaning of all of the various information that has been collected can be a complicated process. While this involves looking for patterns—similarities, disparities, trends, exceptions and other potential relationships—and determining what these patterns might mean, we must also ensure that we have collected the right data, and that information will support our fundamental business objectives.
- First and foremost, we should always start with our evaluation goals, and the reason that we undertook the project in the first place. What are we trying to accomplish? What are we looking to measure? What issues are we trying to resolve? How can the information be used to support our loss prevention program? How can it be used to support the company in general? This starting point will help us to organize our information and focus our analysis.
- When collecting our information we should be thorough, accurate, objective and complete. If our information is going to be useful, it must be inclusive and untainted. It must measure the desired concepts without prejudice. Do we have all of the available information? Do we have all of the information that we need? How do we categorize the information? Is there any unnecessary data? Is there missing data? Was the information collected properly? Are our information sources valid?
- When interpreting information, we have to attempt to put the information in the proper perspective when comparing outcomes with our goals and expectations. This would include evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the data and any factors that might influence the results. What do the results tell us? How does this compare with what was expected? Why might the information be different than what was expected? What patterns are present? What trends are visible? Can we identify any important relationships? Are there any unusual or unexpected findings? How might this information change? What might influence such a change? Based on all of the available facts, what might happen in the future? Consider recommendations that might help improve the program, conclusions about program operations and creative ways that the information can be applied to help us reach our program goals.
- When reporting evaluation results, we have to consider who the information will be shared with when determining the level and scope of those results. We should establish priorities, and organize the information in a way that facilitates both comparison and understanding for the potential audience, and translate that information into viable action plans. What is the most accurate and appropriate way to summarize our findings? What format should be used to report our findings?
Analyzing information is crucial to the development of our loss prevention program, and helping us to establish new ideas and better ways to reach our program objectives. The process of collecting, organizing, and analyzing data is not always a simple process. The results may be unexpected, they may prompt us to look at the information in a different way, or even force us to go back and collect additional information to take us in the right direction. But by identifying and interpreting patterns, the relationships between and among the available information, and the factors that may have affected the data we may come to a better understanding of some of the factors that influence shrink and company profitability.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about building a successful loss prevention program and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.