As I travel around the country working with financial institutions that are ready to implement a data analytics program, I realize a common denominator throughout them. Many have yet to align their data analytics strategy with their overall corporate/business strategy.

When the business objectives and analytics strategy do not operate from the same playbook, it creates competing priorities, putting the various departments within a financial institution at cross-purposes. Even worse, when these strategies do not blend, the credit union will struggle to see a return on the data analytics investment! If you’re ready to put your strategy into action, here are seven steps to keep in mind as you implement your data analytics initiatives:

1. Start with a Roadmap

The first step is to attain a thorough understanding of the credit union’s strategic business initiatives and ascertain how data analytics will help achieve those objectives. Knowing your business goals today, and in the coming 2, 5 and even 10 years will help the credit union devise a strategic plan and roadmap that ultimately aligns analytics with key business imperatives. During the strategic planning and goal setting phase, make sure key objectives for the data analytics program are documented and communicated throughout the organization.

2. Understand Line-of-Business Needs

Take the time to understand each line-of-business’ needs regarding what information is required from the data and how to act on insights. Establish what systems and processes are needed to drive the flow of data throughout the credit union. Each line-of-business will require different data outputs to hit their set goals. By providing easy access to the data, and a streamlined process to put the data into action, alignment of the overall business initiatives becomes routine.

3. Establish Metrics to Track Performance, Measure Progress & ROI

Tracking and measuring the ROI of an analytic programs allows the credit union to re-prioritize goals and take corrective action steps along the way. By measuring the action taken from the data’s prescriptive recommendations, the credit union can focus efforts on the most promising opportunities, resulting in an immediate boost to revenue and member resources. Once key data segments are identified, efforts should be focused on the campaigns that delivered the greatest ROI, and devise a set of recurring best practices for future campaigns.

4. Understand the Data & Application Environment

The credit union’s application environment contains a massive collection of resources that hosts applications including, the core, consumer LOS, a CRM system, commercial and mortgage loan origination systems, phone systems, bill pay and many other disparate systems. Understanding where and how data resides in each system along with how data flows through these applications is crucial in prioritizing data integrations into an analytics platform, accomplishing strategic business intelligence goals, and allowing the credit union to become data-driven. Some data resides on-premise while other data sets reside in hosted applications by the credit union’s vendors. It is imperative that this due diligence is performed in advance of any development or software acquisition endeavors.

5. Create an Analytics Committee

When the analytics strategy is shared by the entire team, it is easier to navigate the near-term tasks of planning, goal-setting, and performance management. Consider establishing a leadership committee responsible for defining and driving the analytics program for maximum value. The committee will set teams up for success by demonstrating how to effectively use the system to extract insight and drive action. Once the staff has a better understanding of how to use the data analytics program, they can then focus their efforts on addressing key business objectives.

6. Allow Open Communication

Data analytics isn’t just for your IT folks. From C-level to member-facing staff — all should be able to access, share and see data to monitor performance, challenges or emerging opportunities. Open, transparent communication about the strategy and long-term goals leads to a more aligned team, and prevents information silos. In turn, workplace culture is improved and a collaborative environment is created.

7. Hire a Chief Data Officer/Analytics Officer

By enlisting the help of an experienced CDO/CAO, the credit union is better equipped to reach their business objectives. Whether hiring a full-time executive or outsourced consultant, view them as a trusted advisor and strategic partner. A CDO/CAO will work with your data analytics teams to analyze the data and train your staff to uncover and act on new opportunities that lead to your end goals. These experts can advise your decision-makers to act on immediate opportunities, monitor progress, track success, establish best practices and improve your institution’s overall competitive advantage.

Has your credit union hit success with an aligned business and analytics strategy? If you need support with these key steps, The Knowlton Group can help. Let us create a data analytics strategy and implementation roadmap to ensure your business goals are met and that your analytics investment pays-off.