An assessment of your data and analytics is the starting point to developing a successful data strategy. This blog outlines what a data and analytics assessment is, how we approach it, and what you get out of it.

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, and technology 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 an assessment of your data and analytics.

What is a Data and Analytics Assessment?

The data and analytics 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 strategy and a customized, step-by-step roadmap that defines how to implement it. The 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 and Analytics Assessment?

The Analytics8 data and analytics 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 recommend the people and processes you need too.

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.

The four-step approach Analytics8 takes to assess your data and analytics needs includes:

Step One: Identify Business Goals and Challenges

Our analytics experts will conduct interviews with IT and business 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?
  • Current roadblocks, limitations, and challenges.
  • Specific use cases: how can data support your goals?

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.
  • Data profiling on all source systems.
  • An assessment of current people 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 you need to reach your goals. During the design process, we:

  • Identify KPIs and key metrics and their definitions/ calculations.
  • Prioritize use cases.
  • Facilitate analytics software demos and evaluations.
  • Design future-state architecture along with specific technology recommendations, which can span any area within data management and analytics.
  • Design dashboard wireframes.
  • Build conceptual data models.
  • Create data flow diagrams.
  • Build bus matrix.
  • Define 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.

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 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 and roadmap usually takes 4-7 weeks. The day you get your roadmap, you can start executing the plan. We make sure the deliverables we provide in the assessment are actionable so that there’s no time wasted.

What is the Value of a Data and Analytics Assessment?

Nobody wants to pay a vendor to come in and tell them what they already know. At the end of your data and analytics 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.

Customer Success

Analytics8 has conducted a data and analytics assessment for hundreds of clients through the years—each has found value in different, but meaningful ways.

Most recently, we completed a data and analytics assessment for iFit, a fitness company that needed to better understand its 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. This plan provides iFit the basis to be more agile in its market, grow its member base, and improve customer satisfaction.

In another use case, Analytics8 conducted a data and analytics 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.

Other examples of the data and analytics assessment lead to an organization taking the blueprint we provided and using it to ensure it is on the right path for setting up its own teams, data, and dashboards. We recently completed an assessment for a publicly traded real estate investment company that sought to transform its portfolio of properties to meet current market demands. After the assessment, we outlined recommendations for what was needed when it came to data storage, organization, and data integration, and how it will be displayed to the end consumer in Power BI. We provided a roadmap for how to move toward a more data-driven culture and the REIT was able to implement the solution on its own.

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