It takes a village to…. execute a successful executive analytics project? Maybe that’s not quite how the saying goes, but we can’t help but agree with this slight alteration. To ensure the success of any project, you need to have the right people at the table with specific skill sets to implement a key strategy. These people combine their knowledge, roles, and responsibilities to form a productive and conducive project. So, what roles do you need to ensure a successful business analytics tool implementation? We’re glad you asked.
Here’s a dessert metaphor (who can say no to dessert?): just like baking a cake needs all its ingredients, like flour, baking soda, and sugar, to create a delicious birthday dessert, an executive analytics implementation needs the right people, like an executive sponsor, a project owner, and a data specialist, to create a smooth and strong implementation.
Implementing business intelligence (BI) software, like our favorite BI solution Domo, should have clearly defined key program roles. Let’s dive deeper into each of these critical players and how they impact the outcome of a business analytics tool implementation:
- Executive Sponsor
This role is at the top of the food chain (we love our food comparisons) and is crucial in the implementation to make sure decisions and KPIs are rolled out throughout the entire organization, not just the IT team. This is the person who leads the initiative and signs the contract kicking off the workplace’s digital transformation. An executive sponsor generally works with the C-Suite team and puts together the strategy that is the guiding light of the project.
To be successful in this role, the person needs to have high likability and be an attentive leader with some pull and influence over staff. These people are heavily invested in making sure the project is successful. Over 50% of participants who participated in a study, said their sponsors did not have an adequate understanding of the role of a sponsor. So, make sure your sponsor knows their role. Nothing starts and ends well without an active and engaged executive sponsor.
- Project Owner
This person has experience with managing a team and is skilled at it. Their experience should also include data analysis (even if it’s just in Microsoft Excel) and should be reasonably tech-savvy to see the project through to fruition. Domo likes to call its project owner a ‘MajorDomo’ and we can understand why – it takes a lot of product knowledge to be successful in this role.
A Project Owner could have a wide variety of job backgrounds, like the director of IT, BI analysis, or financial analysis in a more tech-forward organization. They, ultimately, are the person responsible for the tool being rolled out. They manage the tactical implementation of the strategy and drive the implementation forward toward its end goals.
- Data Specialist
A data specialist is a person who likes to build things, such as complex data flows and visualization tools like tailored dashboards. They are the “boots-on-the-ground” person typing in code and pulling information together to create something new, or to provide new insights on an otherwise unclear data set or report. They are usually the office’s BI analyst or IT specialist.
A lot of organizations, especially small to mid-sized ones, will move a regular business analyst into a BI analyst role to perform the data specialist role. A BI analyst is often a newer role when a company dives into more in-depth business analytics tools. Or as mentioned, it can also be a regular business analyst or financial analyst who moves over into the role for the duration of the project.
Thoughts to Think By
It should be noted that a Project Owner and a Data Specialist can be the same person, so long as they have the right skills and sufficient time to play the roles. This is especially true in smaller organizations with scarce resources. A number of our small to mid-sized clients have one person wearing the Project Owner hat and the Data Specialist hat – that’s totally fine and can work quite well.
The other option is to hire your ERP partner for these roles. Quite often with our clients, we are part of the leadership team and fulfill these two roles for them on an ongoing basis. This is helpful to organizations that don’t have the in-house resources to tackle these positions for the project. The bonus of hiring a partner, like our executive analytics team, to help with the implementation is we also work closely with the executive sponsor and the C-Suite team to ensure the right data strategy is created for your project’s overall vision and goals.
If there’s one tidbit of information you take home after reading this, it should be that if you plan on using in-house resources for these uber-critical implementation roles, make sure they have enough bandwidth, in addition to the proper skills and abilities to nail the job. Employee burnout is a real thing, with 52% of workers experiencing it today. At the end of the day, what matters is that you have set up the right people to do the job successfully from the planning phase through to post-implementation.
The thing about change is it’s unique. Implementing an analytics project using cookie-cutter (we must be hungry) methods isn’t the right approach. There are a lot of different factors to consider, like business size and resource availability. Wondering how you can get started on your executive analytics project today? Explore your options with our experts.