Advanced analytics is among the top buzzwords today due to the potential results this leading technology can bring. However, from statistics we’ve seen, efforts to develop and deploy these solutions fail as often as they succeed. Based on our experience, I’d like to review how we approach our customers and projects to give you some guidance to maximize your chance of success.
In any advanced analytics project, there are three main areas that have to be addressed. These are:
· Business case
· Solution architecture, technology and integration
· Change management
For the first installment in this series, I will focus on business case. This should be the start of any new advanced analytics endeavor. One would think that all companies engage in an advanced analytics project with a clear business purpose in mind, but you’d be wrong. Too often, these projects are started with little focus leading to minimal results. With our customers, we begin with what we call a use case workshop. This typically involves a nominal fee to ensure the client has skin in the game. This workshop is designed to achieve multiple essential results including:
· Identifying key pain points in the customer’s business.
· Identifying what data the customer has to support the project and what gaps exist
· Identifying key client stakeholders and decision makers
· Determining key use cases for advanced analytics
· Assessing the financial impact of each use case
· Developing a decision matrix to determine which use case to focus on first
· Developing success criteria for the project
· Determine client’s comfort level with and ability to change
When we conduct these workshops, we work to ensure all of the major stake holders and decision makers are in the room so that consensus can be built with regard to the overall objective as well as the success criteria. It’s very important at an early stage to identify possible objections and work to overcome those. Additionally, this is a key opportunity to ensure that everyone is speaking the same language with regard to the solutions and technology. It’s also an opportunity to feel out the client’s ability to cope with significant process change. Value will not be delivered to the client unless they are able to leverage the solution created. If they are unwilling or unable to augment their processes to account for the new insights delivered by the solution, they will never see the value and the project as a whole will be unsuccessful.
Once we’ve explored the pain points and identified a few use cases, typically 3-5, we then do a financial analysis in collaboration with the customer. We use the customer’s costs as well as the expected outcome to identify what net benefit the customer can expect. We then use this analysis and weigh it against other variables such as feasibility of success, time to market, additional data sourcing and availability, integration difficultly (both technical and process focused), etc. to determine the best path forward. From there, we build out the proposal. This will include the key discoveries from the workshop including: project objective, success criteria, schedule, roles and responsibilities, etc. along with pricing and methodology. The key benefit to this methodology is that you have had to the opportunity to uncover what’s most important to the client and build consensus with the key stake holders prior to presenting a proposal. This prep work takes time, but it allows you to have a clear path on what is to be achieved, what the challenges are, and what the path for success looks like. Having this in place before you start developing models or cleaning data places you on the right foot to maximize your chance for success. In the next installment will discuss how to architect these solutions and the key pitfalls to look out for. Stay tuned!