Taking Analytics for a Test Drive

By Jane Griffin Print this article Print

A pilot program is often the most manageable first step to starting a business analytics journey.

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Launching the Pilot

A successful pilot achieves a balance between being narrow enough to manage and broad enough to demonstrate real business benefits quickly. One key to launching a pilot you can build on is to include the basic visualization components, so that future efforts can leverage the pilot’s underlying structure.

While the pilot has a defined start and end point, the goal is to deliver enough value to create a foundation for future initiatives. The life span of a BA pilot is usually three to four months and includes the following phases:

Gaining Consensus: Before embarking on the pilot, get buy-in from the functional area or business units involved. Communicate, listen and respond to questions and concerns.

Pilot Planning: Define a very specific hypotheses, objective and business problem for the pilot to address.

Resource Planning: Involve internal resources as much as possible, so that the pilot is viewed as a “family affair.” If you don’t possess the experience in-house, look externally for help.

Training: The pilot should focus on training the staff involved. However, for future phases, everyone in the business should be trained on the basics of analytics.

Infrastructure Assessment: Pilots should leverage your existing infrastructure and systems whenever possible. The goal is to build a more aware and nimble organization.

Kickoff: Make sure the parameters, scope and time frame of the pilot is communicated ahead of kickoff and that schedules are adhered to throughout.

Testing/Validation: Test, validate, document and publicize insights internally.

Measuring and Communicating Results: Measure results—savings, efficiency gains, risk mitigation, etc.—and communicate benefits companywide.

Measuring Success

An analytics pilot—focused on a specific functional area and staffed with a team of enthusiastic people who have well-defined roles—lets organizations test-drive analytics before investing for the long term. But to pave the road forward, it is important to establish metrics for success up front.

At the highest level, the pilot should align with the organization’s strategic objectives, addressing a well-defined and specific issue that is readily measurable and meaningful to executives. For example, it may demonstrate how a value-based pricing strategy can benefit customers and the business.

If the pilot shows sufficient results, it can gain momentum and can be expanded to become an enterprise solution and a valuable corporate asset. Jane Griffin, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, has more than 30 years of IT experience, with a focus on business analytics and business intelligence, data warehousing and master data management. She can be reached at janegriffin@deloitte.com.  

This article was originally published on 2012-02-15
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