A data strategy assessment is the starting point to developing a successful data strategy. In this blog, we outline what a data strategy assessment is, how we approach it, and what you get out of it. We also provide examples of how a data strategy assessment led to a successful data strategy roadmap.

Successful, thriving companies all have one thing in common: they are able to make sense of their data and strategically use it to transform and drive their business forward. But how do they do it? It’s simple: they have a defined data strategy that acts as the foundation to their data and analytics practices.

A good strategy is not just about data and technology, it is a defined plan that outlines the people, processes, technology, and data your organization needs to accomplish your data and analytics goals. It is designed to answer exactly what you need in order to more effectively use data; what processes are required to ensure the data is high quality and accessible; what technology will enable the storage, sharing, and analysis of data; and the data required, where it’s sourced from, and whether it’s of good quality.

Before you can answer any of these questions and develop a successful data strategy, you should start with a data strategy assessment.

What is a Data Strategy Assessment?

The data strategy assessment is an in-depth evaluation of various factors within your organization that affect the quality of your analytics and your ability to make data-driven decisions. During an assessment, we review where you are today, map out where you’d like to go, and provide a plan for how to get there.

At the end of an assessment, you will have a defined data analytics strategy and a customized, step-by-step roadmap that defines how to implement it. The data strategy roadmap outlines all of the steps that need to happen and when, so you can be confident that you are tackling projects in the right order to ensure an efficient implementation and that you are realizing quick wins right out of the gate.

What is the Analytics8 Approach to a Data Strategy Assessment?

The Analytics8 data strategy assessments are in depth and detailed. We don’t provide you with a conceptual approach—we get down to the nitty gritty and provide specific details about how to accomplish your data and analytics goals. Because a data strategy is more than just the technology, we take a holistic look at your business and make recommendations on the supporting processes, as well as the team and enablement required for long-term success.

In an assessment, we discuss what your needs are, where your challenges lie, what your business goals are, and how exactly you can use your data to reach these goals.

Step One: Identify Business Goals and Challenges

White and blue graphic illustrating a four-step approach to data strategy assessment, includes understanding business goals, capturing current state, designing future state, and building a data strategy roadmap.

The four-step approach Analytics8 takes to assess your data and analytics allows us to understand business goals, capture current state, design future state, and build a data strategy road map.

Our analytics experts will conduct interviews with key stakeholders to understand your requirements, business goals, and any challenges to achieving those goals. During these interviews, we will discuss and identify:

  • Business goals: what are you trying to accomplish (what are the ‘big rocks’ your are trying to move)? By understanding your business objectives, we can prioritize technical projects and move from the cycle of treading water to making progress toward your goals.
  • Current data roadblocks, limitations, and challenges
  • Business motivation: what will drive data and analytics projects? The goal here is to understand the most valuable business areas that could be improved with data and analytics, and how data data can support your business goals within specific use cases.

Step Two: Assess and Capture Current State

Next, we get a better understanding of where you are today. We will assess your analytics maturity and examine your current environment through these activities:

  • A complete inventory of the tools, technologies, and systems you use today
  • A deep dive into your data, existing technical infrastructure, and analytical architecture
  • Meetings and system overviews with IT and data source SMEs
  • Data profiling
  • An assessment of current skills within your organization
  • An assessment of all organizational processes related to the use of data and analytics
  • A data science-readiness determination

We summarize all of this into a current state overview that details where insufficiencies exist within your technologies and competencies, makes clear the need for a new solution, and serves as a benchmark against which progress will be measured.

Step Three: Design Proposed Future State

After we have a firm grasp of your goals, challenges, and current environment, we design the proposed future state, outlining the people, processes, and technologies and data you need to reach your goals. During the design process, we:

  • Identify KPIs and key metrics
  • Create a prioritized backlog of use cases
  • Design future-state data architecture along with specific technology recommendations, which can span any area within data management and analytics
  • Conduct a thorough tool selection process where—for each layer in the data lifecycle—we evaluate the technologies relevant to your organization against custom criteria based on your specific priorities, environment, and parameters
  • Design dashboard wireframes
  • Build conceptual data models
  • Create data flow diagrams
  • Build a bus matrix
  • Define the roles and responsibilities required to be successful with the recommended future-state architecture and the organizational structure and business processes needed to accomplish goals (training needed, org charts, job descriptions)
  • Define the data governance approach, processes and committee structure, roles and responsibilities

We then run each individual recommendation from the future state documentation through an evaluation process based on expected business impact and technical feasibility. We plot the recommendations on a prioritization matrix and group them into projects to determine a logical sequencing of activities. This approach allows us to plan projects in the most economical and efficient way (e.g., we might combine recommendations from different quadrants if they are based around a common data entity); plus, it helps us identify the high feasibility/high value projects that should kick off the initiative so that you immediately start getting value from your solution.

Graphic illustrating a Prioritization Matrix where each planned project is scored and plotted based on its business value and technical feasibility.

A prioritization matrix helps identify the high feasibility/high value projects that should kick off data and analytics initiatives.

Step Four: Develop Data Strategy Roadmap

All of the understandings and output from the first three steps are then used to create a data strategy roadmap. The data strategy roadmap is your North Star: it includes a plan, schedule, and costs for how to implement the recommended future state. It prioritizes efforts and identifies quick wins so you can start seeing value quickly, but also includes a long-term plan to increase your analytics maturity.

The data strategy roadmap includes:

  • The business case for the data strategy and activities in the roadmap
  • An agile schedule, starting with what should happen first, complete with timing for all future phases
  • Estimated time, costs, and effort needed to carry out the solution

Every client is unique, but the creation of a data strategy roadmap usually takes 6-8 weeks. The day you get your roadmap, you can start executing the plan. We make sure the deliverables we provide in the data strategy assessment are actionable so that there’s no time wasted.

Many clients already understand the need and have buy-in to strategize and increase analytic maturity. In these cases, we can layer implementation work even sooner and have a development team begin work on the low-hanging fruit while the strategy team completes the longer-term roadmap and supporting recommendations. This approach prevents gaps between the assessment and the implementation—and it is the fastest way to begin realizing value and increasing analytic maturity.

What is the Value of a Data Strategy Assessment?

Nobody wants to pay a vendor to come in and tell them what they already know. Additionally, no one wants to make large investments in data and analytics solutions and not see a return on investment.

At the end of your data strategy assessment, you will have a plan to improve all the ways you acquire, store, manage, share, and use your data, and be equipped with a customized plan for how exactly to move forward.

Learn more about our Data Strategy Services

Examples of Data Strategy Assessments 

Analytics8 has conducted data strategy assessments for hundreds of clients through the years—each has found value in different, but meaningful ways. Below are some examples of data strategy assessments that have led to successful data strategy roadmaps.

Data Strategy Roadmap Enables Cielo to Take Valuable Data Products to Market 

Cielo, the world’s largest talent acquisition partner, has goals to continue growth by serving new markets and acquiring additional companies. To do this successfully, Cielo needed to develop a data strategy for a more effective internal use of data, as well as to create a path toward data monetization. After reviewing Cielo’s current technology stack and business processes, we developed a data strategy roadmap that outlined the path to a modern data architecture, clearly defined roles for their data engineering and data analytics teams, as well as identified use cases for data monetization. The plan we put together gives Cielo a clear path to additional value streams by leveraging their data to create premium data products that help their clients with recruiting and hiring efforts.

CareQuest Institute Makes Equitable Change in Oral Health Care with Data-Driven Mission Delivery

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system. The organization had recently separated from one of their affiliates and had an urgent need to become technologically independent. At the same time, they wanted to automate and advance their data practices so that they could better serve the community. After completing a data strategy assessment of CareQuest’s technology and business processes, we developed a data strategy roadmap for modern cloud technology, a new architecture stack, staffing recommendations, a plan to migrate and ingest data sources, consolidation to one analytics platform, and a plan to hire and train employees. CareQuest now has full independence of their data, IT, and security with a future-proof solution that will grow with them.

Fitness Platform iFit Shapes Up Data for Analysis and Growth

We completed a data strategy assessment for iFit, a fitness company that needed to better understand their customers. At the end of the assessment, we provided a roadmap to integrate data from iFit’s multiple systems into a cloud-based repository to allow for unified data analysis and simple addition of new data sources. We also guided iFit through best practices for breaking out of the cycle of endlessly fighting fires and instead achieving more efficient, agile data and analytics processes that allowed for progress toward goals. This plan provides iFit the basis to be more agile in their market, grow their member base, and improve customer satisfaction.

Watch our Managing Director of Customer Success talk about the Data Strategy Roadmap we built for iFit:

The data strategy roadmap is the detailed plan you get from going through the data strategy assessment process

Captive Confidently Faces Major Growth with Data and Analytics Roadmap

In another use case, Analytics8 conducted a data strategy assessment for Captive Resources. As the company grew, manual reporting processes were impacting its ability to make quick decisions regarding pricing and finances. After going through an assessment, we developed a detailed plan for a data warehouse and centralized reporting platform and provided suggestions on data storage, BI and ETL tools, and staffing needs. This plan provides CRI with a 360-view into its business, boosts analytical capabilities, eases data quality concerns, and gives the company confidence to proceed with a solid growth plan.

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Christina Salmi Christina leads the Data Strategy Service Line, helping our customers to think and act strategically about data and analytics.
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