Intelligent Metrix

Data to Metrics to Insight to Intelligent Decisions

Training IS a Best Practice – Not Just a Component

Staying abreast of best practices isn’t enough.  You also need to know how to implement the fundamentals.  

A report by AIIM/IBM on business process management (BPM) took a look at issues experienced by organizations implementing BPM.  Top of the list: underestimating the process and organizational issues (45%); lack of staff knowledge and training (41%), excessive scope creep (29%).  And, this in not confined to BPM.  The take-away, what you don’t know will hurt you.

Many organizations may consider training a high priority.  However, management and employees rarely have the time or understand how to get the proper training.  Simply reading trade books and articles or attending event seminars and college courses is not enough.  Management and employees need hands-on and micro-seminars that focus on building the analytic skills and innovation techniques that bridge the gap between high level ideas and take it to practice.  High-level content needs to be tailored to the company’s issues and environment.

In the three issues listed above, training is core to the pain felt in underestimating process and organization issues, and scope creep.  Pain is felt because most learning is being done on the job after business requirements and requests come in.  Instead, project leaders and subject matter experts need to educate themselves on process, tools and the implementation scenarios within their environment to focus on the right inquiries during the business analysis phase prior to project launch.  

Training is also necessary for successful implementation.   In many cases, training is an afterthought of the project and inadequate.   Change in processes or the implementation of new tools can be difficult for end-users and can take 6 month of more for people to be proficient and effective.  Comprehensive training along with appropriate documentation and reference tools will make the transition faster and smoother helping you realize improvement and ROI sooner.

How to Leverage Training

Analysis Proficiency:  People should understand scenario based analysis and how to use tools, data, and inquiry techniques to align best practices to internal business environments.  Examine processes and pain-points with possible next steps accounting for various methods that fit your business, goals, and capabilities.

Right-sourcing:  Training resources need to be tailored to closing gaps between generic concepts and internal practice.  Micro-seminars and peer-reviews focusing on specifics within like organizations with similar problems will help develop and refine road-maps.

Future-casting:  Once abreast of new practices and solutions that align to your business, start training.  You’ll most likely have an idea of business requirements and hurdles that lead you to finding value in a concept.  Get smart before you begin the project.

Hire an Expert:  If you are truly re-engineering, have an expert(s) on the project to represent the business and technical aspects to be the go-to for in project training.  They can help with scenarios, alignment, analysis, and solution decisions that streamline a project and position for success.

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Social Media: Back to Spreadsheets

It’s a dirty word right now – spreadsheets.  IT departments want to remove our dependence on spreadsheets and convert us over to a secure, controlled, shared, and robust analytic environment.  I would love that!  But, I have a problem, social media.

I’m managing more properties and content that is outside the realm of my corporate environment but I still have to report back and show how it is doing.  The only way I can do this is by using several analytic tools across multiple properties.  I grab the stats I need and punch that into a spreadsheet.  Then, I go to my web analytics reports, grab those stats, and consolidate them with my social media data on my spreadsheet. After that, I consolidate my lead metrics with my internet metrics for a 360° view of my marketing efforts.

It is all very time consuming and open to data entry error.

Business Intelligence is great to track internal process, but it is doing nothing to help track activities outside the corporate environment.  So, I’m stuck with spreadsheets.  Can you help?

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Why Business Intelligence is So Difficult

Reading the buzz on the Jim Davis’s presentation at SAS Global Executive Forum, what it made me realize is that if as an industry we can’t agree on what Business Intelligence is or Business Analytics, how are we supposed to make sense of it in implementation?

business intelligence confusionYou have analytics players, enterprise application vendors, business process consultants, and analysts all trying to sell the ‘hype’ of a better way to analyze your business and makes decisions.    SAS wants to sell their analytic solution that really pioneered data mining in businesses.  Oracle and IBM wants to push dashboard solutions that links to business processes and their enterprise applications.  Gartner that tries to tie together people, process, and technology but is really is focused on what technology to buy.  Then, you have consultants that are trying to help you implement the technology even as they document your processes.  The problem is that it’s all boiling down to the one with the best tool wins.

Enter in the ‘Business’ and now you have a problem.  All they want to know is how they can meet their business objectives.  IT is trying to sell the solution and make them understand the technology, and the business glazes over and can’t figure out what to focus on.  I’ve sat in these discussions where IT tells me, “You tell us what to do, we’ll do it.  Don’t worry about the solution.”  It is open ended.  This leads to IT unable to work towards tangible goals and results.  The business walks away frustrated, projects run from months into years, and original budgets are thrown out the window.  I liken these projects to Boston’s Big Dig.

Neil Raden provided a perfect way to get through the fluff and hype that surrounds analytics and business intelligence. See article From BI to Business Analytics, It’s All Fluff

“I don’t like the term business analytics; it doesn’t tell me anything. Frankly, I think business intelligence as a term is downright laughable, too. What does that mean? Is integrating data intelligence? Is generating reports intelligence? Maybe its informing, but isn’t intelligence something you HAVE not something you do? Does doing what we call BI lead to intelligence, or just some information? A long time ago we called this decision support, and that gets my vote.”

So here’s my take on what steps to take when and how to venture into BI and analytic solutions.

Steps:

  1. What decisions need to be made?
  2. At what point in our business and business processes are these decisions made?
  3. What information is needed at these points?
  4. How should our applications and data provide this information – triggers or visualization?

See the steps?  It starts with the business decion and ends in the technology.  So, when you begin to review vendors and solutions, make sure you have steps 1,2,3 in mind before you determine how to solve step 4.

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