Back to Blog
Blog post by Deb Dietz
Continuing with our Strategic Planning blog series, this post provides specific steps you can take which provide the information and insight you need to develop your strategic plan. Because data analysis is so critical to business plan development, I wanted to include some additional information regarding the process of data analytics. And that’s the point; it’s a process, not a project. If you are embarking on creating a data-driven business strategy that can help steer your business in the right direction, keep these nine steps in mind:
1. Goal Identification and Project Planning. State the purpose of the analytics – what is the business problem you are trying to solve, its’ root cause and potential cost/benefit impacts. What resources are required, how will you communicate your objectives, and what is your time frame?
2. Data Requirements. What are your data/information needs? What analytics are relevant in achieving your objectives? Have you identified your current state? Have you assessed business risks and evaluated underlying business processes and internal controls? What data is needed to increase effectiveness and efficiencies of business operations?
3. Data Collection. Think internally and externally. What data do you need to extract from internal, potentially disparate, systems? Externally, do you have access to market research findings, economic indicators, market and industry trends, competitive analysis?
4. Data Processing. How do you need to mine and organize the data? Have you considered work flow management processes, and how to best optimize those processes?
5. Data Cleaning. You’re familiar with “garbage in, garbage out”. What internal processes are you/should you undertake that ensures a clean data file? Are you running your lists through de-duping, address-standardization and other data hygiene parameters?
6. Data Analytics. And, here we are. Data Analytics. You don’t just jump in and start here. You have to work through the five steps prior to getting here. This step helps you identify, design and build relevant analytics to answer the business problems you are trying to solve. Are you undertaking quantitative and/or qualitative analysis? Are you undertaking root cause analysis? Are you running analytics and performing an initial validation of results to identify data/logic flaws? Have you built a bridge that translates findings into actionable steps you can take that ultimately become your forward-thinking business objectives and strategies?
7. Communication and Reporting. This is a crucial step to taking the findings from the data analytics and making recommendations to company leadership. How are you representing these findings (tables/charts/graphs, correlations, deviations, rankings)? These findings, translated into potential business objectives and strategies, begin to create the strawman of your strategic plan.
8. Decision-Making. You are now ready to understand and make conclusions from the data. You can begin to design and execute implementation plans. This process can help you manage organizational change, integrating results into your strategic plan.
9. Data Analytics Tools, Techniques and Procedures. What statistical and reporting tools will you use to gather and analyze data? What software do you have available? What database and decision-support capabilities can you use? What are your data-mining capabilities that help you best understand your business, understand your data, and model your data? What reporting mechanisms do you need to develop that help you measure risk and performance via dashboards, scorecards, and reports? And, how will you make this process a continuous process that over time reduces errors and risk and that is refreshed every year as part of your annual strategic planning cycle?
Data analytics is not a simple business task. It is part of an integrated business intelligence process that can steer your organization in the right direction; a crucial step in your ability to develop and implement your strategic plan.