Reasons to Create A New Analytics Organization

Reasons to Create A New Analytics Organization

For over a decade, a change that has been occurring in almost every industry and organization is the creation of an analytics team. This new team may be called “Business Intelligence” or “Strategic Analytics”, and it may report to a variety of leaders.  The change is typically initiated when one or more leaders – maybe the senior leadership team, the owner, the board of directors – made a decision to create a separate, dedicated analytics team. So, what if you are charged to make it happen?

Now what?  It sounds easy, right? Pick a name for the group, find a leader, hire talented employees, and then execute. But not so fast. This effort can quickly result in a complex web that can have significant impact the current organization, and not always for the better.

It is important to think through all of the reasons for forming an analytics team and its potential impact on specific individuals, departments, and the organization as a whole.  A critical step in this process is to develop a communication plan that recognizes all stakeholders in the organization by requesting their input in the creation of an analytics team.  This multi-level approach is necessary to gain early buy-in in the process and ongoing support along the way.

Benefits to Creating an Analytics Team
There are three main reasons why a leadership group decides to create an analytics team:

  1. To recognize analytics as an important tool in making critical decisions that align with the company’s strategic objectives (increasing sales, improving productivity, retaining employees, etc.)
  2. To send a signal to the entire organization that analytics is important to the company’s future; and
  3. To ensure there is sufficient focus on analytics to reap the benefits.

When an organization forms an analytics team, it is not because analytics work isn’t being done, or that progress isn’t being made, or that people leading the work are not doing a good job. It simply means that by isolating a specific group of tasks or a certain set of work, the value of the work can accelerate. The specialization, the focus, the innovation can start occurring at a faster, more intense rate.

Other reasons for creating an analytics team may be that your organization needs a better way to use the data when making decisions, but no one is charged with that responsibility.  Or perhaps the work of organizing and cleaning data and getting it ready for use takes much of the time and effort of existing teams, which doesn’t allow sufficient bandwidth or interest in creating algorithmic models or visualizations, all of which can be produced by a separate analytics team.

Unexpected Issues

I work with clients to help them anticipate potential pitfalls that may occur in creating a new analytics team, and I develop solutions to help minimize the impact. Here are some common themes I see, and an example of a mitigation strategy for each one.

Creating a new analytics team is not easy. It may seem seem as simple as getting your CEO’s buy-in to create and fund the position, but there are many complexities you must consider to make it successful.  I have helped many organizations realize that the benefits of creating an analytics team outweigh the effort. Keep pressing forward and you will make a difference in your organization!

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