Keys to successfully using analytics to enhance performance

“The bottom line is clear…analytics can now become a strategic competitive advantage. Companies that focus in this area can out-hire, out-manage and out-perform their competitors.” Josh Bersin.

Analytics enables organisations to acquire insights that can help improve performance and enhance their competitive advantage.
However, just because an organisation has access to data that it can analyse doesn’t mean that it will lead to insights that benefit the organisation. There are a number of factors that can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of analytics initiatives, and the following are key to successfully using analytics.

1. Ensure analytics is purposeful and linked to strategy

There is a diverse range of data available in organisations and it can be tempting to just dive in to see what the data shows. However, this can result in feeling overwhelmed and unclear on where to start due to the large amount of data available. Just diving in and fishing for insights can also result in investing time, energy and resources in a manner that doesn’t give us bang for your buck.
Analytics is most effective when it is conducted in a purposeful manner that begins with the end in mind. It is likely to have the most significant impact when it is linked to an organisation’s strategy as this helps to ensure that the insights gained support the organisation in building and maintaining its competitive advantage.
So before undertaking any analytics project, it is useful to think about the organisation’s strategic priorities and the ‘why’ behind what you hope to achieve. This will help target the questions and issues that you focus on and will also help in identifying the most relevant data to use.

2. Use high quality data

This one may seem like of a bit of a no brainer but there are many analytics projects which are undertaken using less-than-ideal data.
The adage ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies to analytics and, given the positive benefits associated with analytics when it is done well, if you want to produce high quality results, it is essential that high quality data is used. This requires a thorough understanding of the data available and selecting data that will allow you to best address the questions underpinning your analyses.
Sometimes it may also require gathering new data as opposed to using existing data within the organisation. To ensure the validity of the results, it is also important to ensure the right type of analyses or approach is used.

3. Engage all relevant stakeholders as early as possible

You have obtained some interesting insights and excitedly share them with others such as your leadership team but instead of getting the reaction you were hoping for the ideas are shut down. Or perhaps the leadership team is onboard with implementing changes based on the insights you gleaned through the analytics but there is resistance from the staff impacted by the changes.
These scenarios highlight the importance of engaging all relevant stakeholders when undertaking analytics projects as early as possible . When thinking about who you need to engage, think about anyone who is likely to have a vested interest or be impacted by the insights and recommendations based on the analytics project.
Consider how you can ensure that you take their perspective into account and engage them so when it comes time to provide and implement recommendations based on the insights gleaned from the analytics they are more likely to be well received.

4. Communicate the results of analytics in a meaningful way

Analytics often involves dealing with complex issues and it is essential that communication with relevant stakeholders is done in a meaningful and engaging manner. This requires understanding the different types of audiences that you will need to communicate with and tailoring your communication accordingly.
To make analytics-related communications meaningful, they should allow others to obtain a greater understanding of the issues and their potential opinions. It also requires translating the data and analysis into something that can be actioned and fosters change.
Think about how you can best communicate the insights gleaned from the data and the analytically-driven recommendations that, when implemented, will help improve outcomes.

5. Implement recommendations and use criteria to evaluate success

It is not enough to simply analyse data and obtain insights, there needs to be decisions made and follow-through in implementing the recommendations. This may involve engaging others who have expertise in the area being addressed to ensure the recommendations are effectively implemented.
Thought should also be given to how any improvements or positive impacts can be sustained.
When implementing recommendations on the basis of analytics, it is important that a criteria is used to evaluate their impact. This may include looking at metrics such as return on investment, productivity, engagement levels, customer satisfaction and turnover.
Appropriate time frames should be considered for when the evaluations are undertaken as well as consideration of both the short- and long-term impacts.
Cover image: Shutterstock

This article is contributed by Peter Berry Consultancy.

Peter Berry Consultancy will be sharing details on how they’ve implemented a multi-metrics approach to Talent identification and development at Probuild during the upcoming ATC2018. If building a world class workforce is important to you, then this is a session not to be missed. Limited tickets left, find out more here.

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