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Organizational change for analytics

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Organizational change for analytics

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At least half of the reasons for the success of your analytics project will be strictly non-technical in nature. They will be about convincing an organization to engage a project and to trust the selected tools, results and people enough to make change. People must be motivated to change behavior, not just create activity.

Changing behavior is one of the most difficult things in an analytics project.  So, please enjoy the other, more technical blogs here.  I’ll be writing those too!  However, in terms of value per word, this blog is your guy!

Bridging communication gaps with stakeholder analysis

Every project should have people who can bridge the communications gap between business and technical, but let’s face it, most people fall into a camp here, and that’s without going into the whole disintermediated IT discussion. Given that gap, mutual tasks must be laid out to ensure the appropriate uptake of the analytics initiatives. There are tasks that I want to put into every analytics project, and they fall into the category of organizational change management.


ChangeStakeholder Analysis is one such task.

There is the point-in-time determination of who the stakeholders are and where they stand. But, most importantly, there is the ongoing curation of the stakeholders throughout the development process (and beyond). Obviously, hundreds of stakeholders cannot be personally managed in this manner, but dozens—the influencers and representatives—can be. Stakeholders are not just users. They are external customers, supply chain partners, suppliers, vendors, user management, technology staff and executive leadership.  Although, not solely the analytic team’s responsi­bility, it is tasked with meeting these groups’ requirements and communicating what is needed for the project to succeed in the long term.  After listing all stakeholders, develop plans to manage them—not as an after­thought, but as a primary focus.  This step may uncover that you have not five stake­holders, as originally thought, but 50.

Training: From deskside to enterprise-wide

Training is also a necessary task, although I do not mean exclusively, or even necessarily, classroom-style training. Training development and delivery might involve any number of media, modules, or events. It can range from desk-side coaching of a single person to conducting multiple classes or webinars for hundreds. Training might also entail creating materi­als specific to end-use of the analytic infrastruc­ture. Regardless of the approach, education is a crucial task that conveys the expectations of the initiative to those affected.

Amplify is sometimes greater than ROI

Sometimes the ROI of the project is well-in-hand if only the promise is delivered. Other times, the ROI is overestimated, and it would sure be nice if the business interests came to the table with some new or derivative uses of the analytics created in the project. Regardless of the setup, it is incumbent on project champions to nurture the fullest utility of the analytics created in the project.  To do this, we must get the word out.

Announcing a project can begin a useful process of revision and improvement as new users, who didn’t initially participate, now emerge.  General announcements also give weight to the initiative and a morale boost to the development team.

Build awareness through preestab­lished channels—company newsletters, intranet sites, etc.  Communications plan­ning is crucial; without it, such efforts will undoubtedly be late and less effective.

Change the description; change the behavior

Finally, a successful rollout, with commensurate organizational change, may render some existing job titles and descriptions obsolete. While many projects overlook such detail, remember that is partially what the users’ performance is aligned with. You must change the target to change the behavior.

A starting point

This article presented a starting point for a system of organizational change with an analytics project.  Stakeholder analysis, appropriate training, project communications, and updating job descriptions will go a long way towards helping an organization to trust the selected tools, results, and people enough to make change with analytics. Choosing a tool that eases people into analytics with self-service and guided data discovery can also play a small role in acceptance during the process.

About the blogger

An Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and frequent best practices judge, William McKnight is a former Fortune 50 technology executive and database engineer who now takes corporate information and turns it into a bottom-line producing asset.  He’s worked with companies like Fidelity Investments, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Scotiabank, Samba Bank, Pfizer, France Telecom and Verizon—17 of the Global 2000—and many others. McKnight Consulting Group focuses on delivering business value and solving business problems utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in information management.  His teams have won several best practice competitions for their implementations.

William has hundreds of articles, 25 white papers and 2 books in publication and is a prolific blogger.  He is a frequent international keynote speaker and trainer.  He provides clients with action plans, architectures, strategies, complete programs and vendor-neutral tool selection to manage information.


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