Throughout much of the consultation process that occurs during the beginning – and continuously through the lifespan – of an analytics action plan, all team members must rigorously ask specific questions; for which the answers will provide clarity, purpose, and most important of all – defined next steps – to what the project (s) at hand aims to achieve.
From many years of having these analytics consultations with clients in a variety of different industries competing in diverse markets, a few observations have become immediately apparent. The first – and most significant of all – is that there is far too often a lack of efficient resource allocation throughout the lifespan of analytics projects. This generally comes in the form of valuable time and dollars spent during extensive consultations where there was an initial lack of full circle strategic vision, uncovered by unplanned hurdles that came along the way.
One area which can help to alleviate the stress and ultimate resource deficiency that occurs from this is simply asking yourself and your analytics team three simple questions not only at the beginning of your next project, but also throughout the entire project until completion. This will ensure your next analytics project is more successful, and it also gives you instant feedback on how you and your team could optimize the process and value created from that project.
This first question is the most important when considering how your analytics team's activities and overall projects are contributing to the overall success of your company. And yes, it is a leading question for a reason; as all analytics action plans should be based on achieving strategic goals that support your company’s goals as well.
If not, then why is the analytics action plan being developed for that particular project to begin with? Although simple in nature, this question has been incredibly impactful when you consider the amount of resources that will be spent on advanced and highly involved analytics projects. The goal here is to streamline the analytics action plan process, and to make it one which not only achieves specific, measurable objectives, but also ties in well with your company’s mission.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, if you work for a solely analytics-based company or you are on a special analytics task force which is uncovering new insights or areas of growth which your company has never reached before. However, it could be argued even then that your analytics team still tie their action plan goals for projects nicely in with the overall company’s goals as well.
This second question simply does not get asked enough. One of the most important takeaways from any analytics project is the subsequent “value” that it creates. Now this analytics value may take on a lot of varying shapes and dimensions, depending – of course – on the specific project and the goals it aims to achieve. However, in proving the worth of your analytics team and the incredible work they do, value must be created and also captured in a way that is easily recorded, reproducible, and communicated to the rest of your company.
If your answer to your question is uncertain as to the value your analytics team creates and captures, then a consultation is suggested to ensure your teams goals are closely aligned with your company’s goals and that your team is achieving measurable success. One of the critical parts of this question is that it forces the user of it to look beyond the tactics of any analytics project and into the strategy of how the analytics action plans of each project achieve success; how that success is measured, and how it is presented to improve thought leadership both within the analytics team and cross-functionally throughout a company.
Last, but certainly not least, it is crucial to evaluate the analytics value created and captured from the perspective of all relevant beneficiaries of the analytics value and also from the relevant stakeholders as well. How your analytics leaders communicate value created and captured then becomes a critical part for current and future success, bolstering the overall value of your analytics team or department.
This third question is more of a strategy-level thought provoker, but it does a lot for organizing the necessary guidance for marketing and improving the analytics practice at your company or the companies you consult.
If you directly manage or influence any of the components of your team’s analytics action plan, you need to be asking yourself and your team this question all the time. Why? Because it allows you to critically think about what separates your analytics team or department from others competing in the same industry.
Continually asking this question allows you to figure out the best way to optimize your team's positioning within an increasingly more competitive analytics marketplace. The second part to this question “if not an industry leader, then how are we going to learn and improve?” provides the necessary follow-up to determine how you can improve any of the driving aspects of your analytics team or department. Sure, there are some factors which the analytics team or department may not have control over, but out of all those which they do have control over, which critical components for that team’s success are optimized?
It is far too often that analytics professionals are able to critically access complex, advanced simulations of a given model, but somehow are not able or willing to apply that same rigorous assessment to their own process or development. There is never a better time than now to improve yourself and your team in some way.
Take advantage of any down time or outreach opportunity to expand the diversified success of your analytics practice today! Strive to be the industrial leader; it will take a lot of time and work, but it will be more than worth it, both in terms of professional and financial success.
All the best,
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