Year-End Planning – Data Style

Holidays are near, and planning for 2017 is in full swing. As you plan, consider how you’ll better leverage your data next year.

I’m often asked where to start for analytics programs. All organizations find the answer in the same place–their strategic planning.

Whether you want to start or expand an analytics program, you’ll succeed by applying analytics in areas most important to your organization. Helping achieve strategic objectives, addressing problems or meeting organizational goals are great places to start. Consider the following framework and incorporate it into your planning.

Framework for Analytics

Strategic Question
The first phase in analytics development is asking a strategic question. You’re likely already asking strategic questions in your year-end planning. See how you can answer those questions with analytics.

Define Objectives
What do you need to answer that question? There may be a couple of objectives or quite a few. As you work through the remaining phases, you may need to revisit the objectives phase.

Obtain Data
You probably already have reviewed reports that help answer the strategic question. Identify the data driving those reports. You’ll need two types of data–for analysis and follow-up. Don’t be afraid to get creative—data exists beyond your accounting system. What other data can you leverage?

Develop Procedures
Next you’ll design and run analyses. Take time to design the procedures, but recognize the value in actually running the procedures to see what you find. Procedures can be modified.

Analyze Results
You’ll have quite a few results from analyses. Now you have to figure out what they mean. Ideally, you’ll have false positives the first time a procedure runs. If you don’t, the procedure’s initial focus likely is too narrow, which may result in false negatives. Determine whether the results meet your objectives and answer your strategic question. If not, revisit the prior phase.

Manage Results
Once you have results that answer the strategic question, figure out how to use the results. If no one uses the results, the analytics function will fall flat from lack of support. If delivery of results isn’t timely, the analytics function will struggle to expand due to others’ lack of confidence. Consider who will use the results. People process data in different ways. Use the framework to incorporate data analytics into your year-end planning so your organization succeeds in analytics in 2017.

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