Being A Great Analyst > Key Attribute #3 > Be Decisive

If you are a good analyst or a decision-maker that uses analytics, being decisive is much, much easier.

One key to using data and analysis effectively is understanding how people make decisions and what impacts the ability to make unbiased decisions.

A few years back I came across a book by Dan and Chip Heath called Decisive. It was a fantastic read.

The Heath Brothers are marketing and management experts who do a lot of research into what works and what doesn’t in the business world.

Decisive looks at what influences effective decision-makers overcome.

As an analyst, there are many valuable lessons that can be applied to both selecting data and presenting the analysis of the data.

One example of being Decisive that I use a lot related to trying to avoid a narrow frame. Too often we limit our choices.

When it comes to what data to use to answer business questions, we have to always ask ourselves is this the right data? Is there other data I can use to validate my findings? What data can be blended with this data to tell a more compelling story?

Being aware of your own biases will help you ensure you get the right data, that it’s what is really need to answer business questions at hand.

Being of aware of the biases of the consumer of your analysis (generally your boss and their peers) can help you position your data in ways that can mitigate those biases and let them see what you see.

There are dozens of examples from Decisive that I use in training people to be analysts and in using analytics effectively.

It is a book, well worth your time.

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

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The Analytics of Project Evaluation

When looking at how to use more analytics in program evaluation, let’s start by getting a standard definition.

Per Wikipedia, Program evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using information to answer questions about projects, policies and programs,[1] particularly about their effectiveness and efficiency”.

This is very much like business analytics in how business leaders look at the analysis of business data to answer questions, identify opportunities and mitigate risks.

Program effectiveness can be measured many ways. Like how a cost-benefit analysis or market penetration report could be used by a company to assess the success of a new product or service.

Program efficiency can be measured using elements of Six Sigma or Lean. Looking for waste or defects in the end results of a project can lead to discoveries of poor implementation or biased data collection.

Another primary goal of project evaluation in both the public and private sectors, is providing stakeholders with information on “whether the programs they are funding, implementing, voting for, receiving or objecting to are producing the intended effect.”

To achieve this goal, you need a system to gather, analyze and report data. Like in any analytics project, the key is finding the right data and using it to answer questions, educate your audience and provide meaningful insight.

Answering questions like, “how much the program costs per participant, how the program could be improved, whether the program is worthwhile, whether there are better alternatives, if there are unintended outcomes, and whether the program goals are appropriate and useful.[2] will indicate the level of success the program achieved.

There are many analytics techniques like data blending to bring in supporting data form outside the program. Predictive models can show where the project would go if it continues to get funding. Data visualization can also be used to help illustrate findings that can be useful in program evaluation.

Just off the top of my head, I can see a lot of opportunity for the use of a business analytics approach to Project Evaluation. There is a lot of common ground in methodology and reporting, but I think bringing in some cutting edge business analytics to the mix would allow even more insightful and actionable project evaluation.

Let’s find out.

1, 2  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Program_evaluation

Evaluators can learn from the ways that the corporate sector uses business analytics to understand, interpret, and display Big Data. Key aspects from the corporate sector that are useful for monitoring and evaluation include identifying what data is important, and finding ways to visualize it for consumption. In my upcoming webinar with American University on analytics solutions, I will be talking about how analytics is relevant to measurement and evaluation.

Webinar details:

February 15, 2017

1pm Eastern

Webpage with webinar registration links: http://programs.online.american.edu/msme/webinars

Analytics Education – Facilitating a mastery of the fundamentals of analytics is what DMAIPH does best. All across the world, companies are scrambling to hire analytics talent to optimize the big data they have in their businesses. We can empower students and their instructors with the knowledge they need to prepare for careers in analytics. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can set a guest lecturer date, On-the-Job Training experience or other analytics education solution specifically tailored to your needs.

Three Things About the Philippines I Love

First, I love where it sits on the map. The weather suits me, I love being by water and the global position brings limitless opportunity. Couldn’t pick a better place to live most of the 2nd half of my life.

Second, I love the spirt of the people. So many reasons to be a sad and depressing place to live. Yet, Filipinos are generally the nicest and most hospitable people on the planet. Driven by both national pride and the need to be part of the global community. Filipino smiles are everywhere.

Third, I love that I am needed. I can do a lot of good no matter where I am. Being an awesome analyst and teaching people to use analytics is something I can do anywhere. But I don’t think any place on the planet needs what I do more now than the Philippines. The future of the global analytics talent pool is uniquely tied to the Philippines.

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So now you know a little more about why I do what I do where I do it most! 🙂

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business.

 

Data-Driven Cultures

Inspired in part by Bernard Marr’s 2010 book, The Intelligent Company, my goal these past several years has been to build and/or be part of data-driven business cultures.

In his book, Bernard advocates for using Evidence-Based Management, that is using the best available data to inform decision-makers. In parallel to this, I have been empowering companies and professionals to empower decision-makers to use more data as well. I call it data-driven decision-making, but at their cores, they are very similar approaches to managing success.

Over the next several blog posts I will share my thoughts on the steps Bernard published. I will be giving my own spin towards more analytics and data-science, two things that I think have accelerated in importance since the book went to print six years ago.

The cornerstone of the book is the five steps to more intelligent decision-making, which are:

  • Step 1. More intelligent strategies – by identifying strategic priorities and agreeing your real information needs
  • Step 2. More intelligent data – by creating relevant and meaningful performance indicators and qualitative management information linked back to your strategic information needs
  • Step 3. More intelligent insights – by using good evidence to test and prove ideas and by analyzing the data to gain robust and reliable insights
  • Step 4. More intelligent communication – by creating informative and engaging management information packs and dashboards that provide the essential information, packaged in an easy-to-read way
  • Step 5. More intelligent decision-making – by fostering an evidence-based culture of turning information into actionable knowledge and real decisions.

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As information and data volumes grow at explosive rates, the challenges of managing this information is turning into a losing battle for most companies. In the end they find themselves drowning in data while thirsting for insights. Combine this with an increasingly severe shortage of talent with analytics, data visualization and good communication skills, things look bleak for companies not adhering to lessons like those suggested in the Intelligent Company.

I get this stuff. In response to a quickening demand for knowledge and know how, I have developed training materials to address these decision-making challenges. The reason I founded DMAI in the first place was to empower more data-driven Decision-Making through the use of Analytics and business Intelligence. I’m happy to help you enable better decision-making in your business and turn it into an Intelligent Company.

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

Why Analytics Projects Fail: #3 – Lack of Management Support

Nothing sucks more for an analyst than taking on an analytics project without support from above. Great analysts are generally only great if they have bosses who advocate for more analytics.

If no one at the top really understands the benefits of implementing your project, if the leadership will continue to use their gut in decision-making regardless of what your project achieves, then start updating your resume. This outcome happens often when the company does not have a business culture supportive of data-driven decision-making.

In this day and age, good analysts are hard to come by…. You can make more money and be happier somewhere else. Trust me. The chances of you being able to turn analytics naysayers into big data believers is highly unlikely.

That said, if you chose to give it a try… here are a few thoughts on how to get management to become more supportive of your analytics project.

Watch the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball. It will inspire you. Read the book Enchantment by Guy Kawaskai. It will empower you. Im not joking. You cant do this on your own.

After that, then you need to do a few things.

First find the person in upper management most likely to get on board. Ask them to help you. Show them data that will outline the better new world after your project is complete. Tell them about analytics success stories (like Moneyball). Let them see your passion for data-driven decision-making. You need  Brad Pitt.

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Next, using the concept of Enchantment, determine what is it about you and your project that will build trust. Will it create more transparency? Will it mitigate risk? Something that demonstrates how this project will increase the level of trust between everyone.

You also need to be likeable. Your project needs to be likeable too. What is it about the project that will make people happy? Who gets a better report, faster and with more useful data? Who gets to start using a business dashboard to make quicker and better decisions? What will each of the stakeholders like about this project.

And then you roll out the great cause. The monetary value generated from implantation. The level of risk mitigated. The better intelligence on competitors or about your market. What will be that great cause?

So now you are in a better position to be Jonah Hiil and go start changing minds and swinging opinions about your analytics project.

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

Why Analytics Projects Fail: #1 – Lack of Focus

Lack of focus is common reason analytics projects fail. Keeping a focus on any project can be a challenge for companies that are not well organized. If you are an analyst or trying to champion analytics in your organization and are up against a lack of focus, I have some ideas for you.

First off, size really isn’t a factor when it comes to the organizational culture towards being organized. In some cases size makes the problem more apparent, but size can also mean more resources, so in most cases its really not a serious issue.

There is generally a strong correlation be the way data is handled in a business and how organized the company is in other ways. Lots of paper, manual processes and clearly define process flows may look organized, but it’s highly unlikely they deliver the type of data leadership really needs.

Lack of focus often happens when leaders seem overwhelmed and say they don’t have time to dedicate to things like analytics. The first thing you need to figure out is are people resources really stretched too thin or is it more a cultural issue where being too busy is more of a badge of honor.

The best way to deal with overworked teams is to start putting data around what they do every day and come up with solutions to improve time management and delegation.  Few people can truly say they have extra time, but everyone can say they need to figure out how to manage time better. A good analytics solution does just that.

Few people can rationally explain why their job would be harder if they had more analytics.  So it’s not too hard to get people to buy into the concept of analytics, but to get them to buy into the actual practice you need to be part salesman and part storyteller.

You need to show them the value putting a greater focus on your analytics project will bring to both the business as a whole and to each individual involved in the project. Besides showing data to champion the use of more data, you need to tell stories about how its helped in other places. You need to get them to envision how much better life will be once your project is complete.

Lack of focus can also come when the project is not well thought out of you get scope creep… when additions are made to a project that start distracting people form the original goal of the project. It is hard to stay focused when you don’t see focus in the project itself.

The final point I’ll make is that you also need visible and consistent buy in from the person(s) in charge. If they are not advocating for analytics, then your project will never get the focus from stakeholders and project team members you need then you will fail.

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Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce that fuels Data-Driven Decison-Making. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

Finding The Time To Talk About Analytics Strategies

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from people when we are talking about how empower more data-driven decision-making in an organization is that no one has enough free time to get serious about analytics.

When facing this kind of challenge, a short presentation full of useful data can be used to start the ball rolling. When people say they are too busy then they are often actually saying I have too many things to keep track of and I am not as organized as I should/could be.

There are indeed times when there is more work than can be done in 40 hours a week, but that is actually not the case in most situations. Most corporate cultures reward those with the “I’m so busy I don’t have time to waste on reports” badge of honor.

To counter this you need to do some research into what are the potential time and cost savings that come from fixing the reports and getting better data to decision-makers. It wont take long to find a lot of numbers to use in your business case after a quick Google search. LinkedIn is also a good place to find lots of supporting documentation.

Once you have that info, you can add it to your own assumptions about what KPIs are not being used or what KPIs are missing from current reporting or which KPIs are miss reporting. This can all be turned into a short, compelling case for others taking the time to talk about broader reporting across the organization.

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To really add some punch to your argument, ask one of the too busy people to give  you a few minutes of time to ask them what more they want/need out of their reports. Hardly anyone is truly happy with the reports they get. Gain a few allies in your crusade.

Most people think that using analytics effectively is all about the technology, but the real secret to success is getting the people on board and on the same page. True analytics centric cultures are based on engagement and that engagement needs a facilitator.

Once you have your story and a few key advocates it will be a lot easier to get closer to the data-driven decision-making you are looking for.  If you need help polishing your story or advice on how to get the engagement of a really tough “I’m too busy” co-worker, let me know. I’m sure I can lend a hand.

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

Q2: Can you tell us what makes you an Analytics Champion?

Well, the first thing you should know about analytics is that there is no one right way to do things. Analytics is in many ways a new profession and up until very recently few people have seen being an analyst as career path. In fact the majority of analysts became so by accident.

Like in my case, most analyst are drawn to analytics because they like to solve problems, have an affinity for working with data, are tech savvy and above all else… insatiably curious. By the time I first had analyst in my title, I had already been doing analytics for several years.

Right out of college I found my novice skills with Excel, my interest in sharing knowledge and my ability to solve problems leading labeling me the data guy. There is nothing specific in my background that would suggest I’d become an analytics guru someday.

Majored in History with a plan to be a teacher. Obtained my Master’s Degree in Education. Started to teach. The school I was working at went bankrupt. Took a job with Wells Fargo Bank just to pay the bills and 15 years later I had amassed a wide range of analytics skills.

If you ask anyone with analyst in their job title, most of them have similar stories. Until recently you could not even get a degree in analytics as schools are just now offering analytics focused courses and degrees.

In 1998, I had the good fortune of being hired by Wells Fargo. The factors that contributed most to my success with the bank were two things inherit in the culture; its progressive use of data in decision-making and its accepted practice of moving up the corporate ladder by moving between departments.

If I had to pick one thing above all others that had made me a good analyst, it is my ability to quickly assess a problem and then identify the data needed to solve the problem.  For my money, finding the right data is the most important trait to have and also the hardest to teach. It comes out of being curious and letting that curiosity drive you to find answers.

For 15 years that drive lead me to add new skills, learn new technologies, and develop new methods to become a proverbial jack of all trades when it comes to analytics. I often describe myself as a super hero, analytics being my super power and the wide range of skills I’ve picked up being items on my utility belt.

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I am far from an expert on most of the ever increasing number of analytics tools out there, but I know what they can do and what they are good at. There are definitely a lot of people who are better at different aspects of analytics and no one can know it all. But in the end, I have become in many ways a guru of analytics.

I love talking about analytics, explaining it in layman’s terms, empowering people new to the concept, turning on the light in a dark room. I also love talking about prescriptive analytics models, using SQL code to write a complex join between data tables or figuring out what tool would be best use to build a business dashboard.

Providing people with the fundamentals of analytics is what I have been destined to do.

The Fundamental of Business Analytics – Business Analytics is the application of talent, technology and technique on business data for the purpose of extracting insights and discovering opportunities. DMAIPH specializes in empowering organizations, schools, and businesses with a mastery of the fundamentals of business analytics. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to find out how you can strengthen your business analytics fundamentals.

Being A Great Analyst > Key Attribute #1 > Know A Lot

Often you here people in business talk about how it’s more important to be either a master at one thing or a jack of all trades. When it comes to being a great analyst, you see many who are great because they have mastered their subject or a certain analytics tool. On the flip side you see many great analysts who seem to know a lot about a lot and are proficient across multiple subjects and/or can use many analytics tools. So which is better?

From both my experience and my personal perspective, analysts who know a lot about a lot are rarer and more valuable to a business. Based on both an accumulation of knowledge and the ability to work in various environments, analysts who are considered to jack of all trades kinds are in general great analysts.

IMG_6912 However, I have also found that most business actually find more value in master of certain type of analysis work or someone who is great at using a certain tool. Specialization is something that is on the surface very impressive as it shows discipline and competency in a certain subject. They know a lot about their area of expertise and are recognized as such.

Occasionally you can even come across analyst who are both knowledgeable about a lot and even more knowledgeable about a specific subject matter. Now that is a rare breed.

So, no matter what type of analyst you are or want to be, the bottom line is you need to constantly read and connect and expand your knowledge… you need to know a lot if you want to be great!

Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization. A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.