Darren Taylor discusses the keys to analytic success ...

The three keys to creating a successful analytics program are: 1) obtain strong executive understanding and support, 2) deliver quick, meaningful business wins, and 3) make one person and group accountable for the program.

Executive support. We had great executive support when we built our data warehouse in 2004, and we quickly delivered good results. It took a bit longer to garner the same level of support for our analytical solution in 2010. Although our data warehousing program was alive and well, we distributed the delivery of analytical applications to individual departments with no single point of accountability. It took us about 12 to 18 months to clarify the difference between data warehousing and analytics to our executive team and gain funding for a new analytical initiative. But once we received executive team support, we quickly implemented the analytical platform and then started reselling analytical services to other health plans.

Deliver value along the way. It’s also important to deliver value along the way. You can’t wait two years to produce something. For instance, while we were building our analytical infrastructure, we built two applications for executives to demonstrate the emerging value of the system. One was a financial dashboard for mobile devices that replaced a 76-page PDF document, and the other was an analysis of the federal subsidies that our members might receive under the new Affordable Care Act. These small, but valuable, business wins gave executives confidence that we would execute the analytical vision.

Clear authority. Finally, it’s important that one person heads the analytical initiative and is held accountable for its performance. We tried a matrix approach in which both IT and business departments manage the data warehousing program, but that didn’t work. We later pulled the program out of IT and put it directly under the CIO, with the COO as the executive business sponsor and then handpicked staff to serve on the team. By knocking down some organizational walls and putting one person in charge with the right team members, we achieved much better results.

This is an excerpt from the book, Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders,” by Wayne Eckerson. To read more from the book, click here.

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