With Analytics becoming more mainstream, we still see many companies shying away from it; perhaps because they have been burned by previous attempts. Here are five tips for any organization looking to turn the corner and start being successful in using their data to make decisions:
- Make data and analysis available to employees: Analytics veterans will tell you there is big value in allowing employees to see and use data. The power transfer that occurs when this is permitted inspires insights in employees’ own work, which helps analytics programs grow and evolve; thereby providing even more value and improvement. Be sure to always ask for users’ assistance and to put some of their ideas to work. These insights will help guide the progression of the project, all the while strengthening employees’ commitment to the data analytics strategy.
- Return on Investment should be measured early & often: Recording wins from data analytics projects is important; however, it is a bottom line requirement and may not be enough to continue to win budgetary support. Times are tight for organizations of all sizes and in all markets, so when it comes time to verify that dollars were well spent on your data analytics efforts, be sure to include: clear measurements on cost benefit (in dollars), hours of employee time saved (in hours and dollars – and include value of re-assignments), as well as the improved outcomes that were seen (that may not have a direct monetary value i.e. improved employee morale, improved customer satisfaction, etc.).
- Hire an expert: Some organizations opt to skip consulting assistance in lieu of pre-recorded training modules and learn to do it themselves for the sake of saving a few bucks. Unfortunately, this mindset causes sluggish returns on the Analytics investment, and we have seen analytics programs get cut for this very reason. Go ahead and get yourself that consultant and ask for a start-up package with training, or better yet, if you can find an expert – HIRE THEM, and then learn from them! Their wisdom and experience can speed your first few projects into quick wins that will help boost data-use culture within your department and maybe across the organization. These wins will also help you continue to get budget allocations, and when word gets around about your success, you may be surprised to see who else from your company comes knocking at your door.
- Get to the point: Top executives’ support is vital to keep analytics projects afloat, and the information and insights analysts develop are vital to top executives’ decision making. “Clear, concise and, most of all, brief” should be your mantra if you are presenting at the executive level. Speak as if you are an executive and be sure you are presenting the product of your analysis, and not the analysis itself. In order to get top leaders to support your data analytics program, they must understand the results of your analysis and how they align with achieving the organization’s overall mission(s). This is actually the largest piece we find lacking in the talent pool for analysts – people with statistical and/or data mining experience AND Business Sense.
- Seek to envelop the organization in data-use culture: Eventually, analytics will be standard operating procedure in all areas of your organization. However, this will take time and numerous successful analytics projects to win over management at all levels. When this happens, there will be a need for on-the-job analytics training for employees to meet the new demand from management (again – hire an expert!). The return on investment for analytics projects (particularly predictive analytics) is so high that the cost for training and/or hiring an expert ends up paying for itself through speedier results and measurable ROI.
These are just a few highlights from data analytics veterans who have seen just about everything. If you have been reluctant to get started, or feel as if you have been burned before but are still feeling interested – we are happy to help!