Fostering analytical competency in an organization means promoting fact-based decision making, driving user adoption of an analytics solution, and ensuring staff can gain insights from data. While this may look like a big managerial responsibility, it does not need to be a resource intensive task.
IT managers and CIOs tell us time and time again that they spend more time on reporting requests than they can afford. While they truly want to meet demands from middle and senior management, reporting requests can become tedious and time-consuming due to a communication gap or the sheer volume of requests. This leaves IT management pressed for time. Alongside the additional pressure to complete other tasks and projects, this may turn work-life balance into more of a work-work balance. Does this sound familiar to you? Keep reading.
As many IT managers and CIOs have discovered, business intelligence and analytical tools are no longer too expensive to fit into an increasingly lean budget. While this is certainly the first step, the key to getting the most out of self-service solutions is promoting analytical competency across your organization. Below we outline four key strategies you should know before implementing an analytics solution.
Bring data to end-users
If you are thinking of implementing an analytics solution like business intelligence (BI), bringing data to end users may seem obvious. Not only can employees resolve their own reporting requests and save you time, bringing data to end users allows for data discovery, resulting in actionable insights as well as promoting a data-driven company culture. However, all BI software is not created equal. While most vendors will tell you they are user-friendly, you want to be sure the solution you end up purchasing is created with non-technical users in mind. This way, you will save time on having managers come to you for reporting simply because they do not feel the tool is user-friendly.
To ensure you go with a solution that is as user friendly as it claims, look through customer reviews and see if customers are discussing whether the software is easy to use. This way you can have more insights into what you are signing up for.
Use appropriate vocabulary
As an IT professional with years of experience, you will have developed a very specific and technical vocabulary. This is perfect for communication with others in the IT team or with IT service providers, but unfortunately makes communication with other, non-technical staff, a bit tricky. Make sure you use vocabulary and phrases that sales, finance and operations staff understand when talking about your new BI tool. This helps the tool seem intuitive to the people that will be using it, encourages user adoption, and decreases time-consuming miscommunications. (For more about how to decrease the communication gap, have a look here).
Promote evidence-based decision making
Research by Gartner has shown that companies that value evidence-based decision making outperform their competition in terms of growth, by a factor of two or more. As an IT manager or CIO, you likely already understand the value of data to business decision making perfectly well. The same cannot always be said for managers and their teams in other areas of the business. By highlighting the importance of evidence-based decision making and some of the wins from it, you can inspire others to give it a try too.
It does not need to be more complicated than asking sales reps how they have identified opportunities, or warehouse employees on what measures they have taken to ensure they avoid dead stock. While we understand you may not be in a position to ask these questions, executive management is. Once executive management sees the value added by IT through the opportunity for evidence-based decision making with BI, they can be valuable team players in the promotion of your BI tool.
Even with the simplest tools, there is some need for training. When training others in the business to use the new BI tool, be sure you include the strategies above in your approach. The reason ‘Training’ deserves a separate paragraph as a key strategy, however, is that training needs vary. It varies depending on the employee and the difficulty of the software.
Phocas generally requires very little training before users are up and running . This decreases pressure on IT and also saves time for users. In addition, Phocas provides an online library of Phocas Academy videos. Academy videos are online training videos that quickly and easily show users how to perform everything from simple to more complex tasks. When employees know they can access this kind of support at any time, the requests for help from IT will decrease dramatically.
In this way, it is easy for IT managers and CIOs to both create value for the business and decrease pressure on themselves and their teams.
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