analytics blueprint

A:360 Podcast #9 – Why Analytics Requires a Top-Down Approach

Today’s A:360 discusses why analytics requires a top-down approach. A top-down approach enables you to create a blueprint for your analytics program before getting started with development. Would you build a house without a blueprint? Of course not! Don’t make that mistake when building out your analytics program.

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Hey everyone. Welcome to today’s A:360. My name is Brewster Knowlton, and today we’re going to be talking about why your analytics programs requires a top down approach.

When I say that analytics requires a top down approach, I mean that you have to focus first strategically and from a higher picture before you start focusing only on the operational, the technology and some of the tactical components that analytics requires.

This involves asking questions like, “What are our KPIs? Do our KPIs align with our business strategy? Do we need to adapt those KPIs?” Once you’ve answered some of those questions and have an idea of where you want to go, then you can start to build an analytics program.

I use the following analogy a lot in presentations when discussing how some organizations start with a bottom up approach. It’s like going to a general contractor’s worksite, and you say you want to build a house. They say, “Okay” and bring you out back and show you what wood they have, what nails they have, what tiles they have, etc. and then ask you what house you want to build. But nobody would ever build a house like that, right? They’d first build a blueprint of what they want to build and then figure out the materials that they need. That’s why we have to start with a top down approach. We have to figure out what our blueprint is before we start to figure out what we need to do to make that vision a reality.

Start by understanding how your business users are using the data. What data do they need? What data do they want? What data would they like to have but can’t get? All of those answers can help you understand the big picture. It helps you create that blueprint for how your organization can and should be using analytics in the future.

Take time to understand the business processes. People forget that the business processes, the front-end procedures, and all the ways that your users and customers are interacting with your systems, those processes dictate how data is going to flow throughout your various applications. So, you have to understand the entire set of processes that compose of the systems that drive the flow of data if you want to have any real picture [of your organization’s data]. This is why I encourage you to spend time during the discovery phase. Sit down and interview members of every department throughout your organization to understand how their using data, how they’re using the systems, and all those ancillary aspects that go along with it.

If you can do all of that, you’ll have a complete picture of the processes, the data and the applications that are used throughout your business. This will provide you an opportunity to have a blueprint built and then figure out how to accomplish the result of that blueprint as opposed to simply saying, “This is what we have, what can we do with it?” You can take the approach where you’re going to figure out what you want to build in the future, what you want this analytics idea to become – and then you figure out how to build it. That is why analytics requires a top down approach, and that’s how to tackle analytics from a top down approach.

That’s it for today. Thanks again for listening to today’s A:360.

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Posted in DW/BI, Strategy.

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