16 Quick Tips for Data-Driven Decisions

Business analysis is the key differentiator between project failure and project success. But your analysis is only as good as your data and your organization’s commitment to collect data, drill down, and listen to what the data really means. Based on Smarter Decisions, Better Results, by Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris, and Robert Morison, the following are 16 tips to analytics and analysis that can make a difference in the culture and practices at your organization. Use your data. Every business has data that it uses poorly or that it doesn’t use at all. Some data is commercially available, and some data is proprietary. Whatever you know about your business, product, competition, customers, and performance is valuable. Take an enterprise-wide view of analytics. Do not hoard information or focus on data that affects only one unit. Anyone who shares a problem or routinely asks similar questions should share the same analytics. Develop people skills. Remember that business analysis and analytics is about business, which is about people and relationships. Know how to relate to people and organize them around a common vision in collecting and understanding data. Set strategy and performance expectations. In committing to an analytical environment, help employees understand the importance of data and analysis in meeting goals. Look for leverage. Understand how results in one area can be transferred to and shared with other areas to maximize value. Know the limits of analytics. Supplement your knowledge of numbers with instincts and sensitivity to solve problems. Keep going. Business analysis and analytics is an ongoing process. Do not become stagnant. Continually rethink the data and what it...

Understanding and Managing Geeks: What You Need to Know

While terms like “Geek Squad” and phrases like “The geeks shall inherit the earth” are humorous, it’s common knowledge that “geeks” – high-tech specialized knowledge workers – provide tremendous value in technology and business. Because they’re so important, it’s imperative to understand them, manage them, and lead them effectively. No one knows that more than Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks. In this book, Glen asserts that geeks are essential for continued innovation, either to generate new ideas or to implement the ideas of others. They are knowledge workers who specialize in creating, maintaining, or supporting high technology. While they are often found in IT, they also have roles in accounting, finance, marketing, sales, or customer service. We need them – but what makes them tick? Geeks are, according to Glen: Reason-based – Geeks value logic and rational input Focused on problem solving – “In every situation,” Glen says, “They seek out the problem and try to solve it.” Childlike – Geeks are intelligent and often very successful early on, in years when they might have been developing social skills or self awareness. Based on this, they are often childlike and still new at adjusting to social situations and intuitively knowing how to act. Curious puzzle solvers – Geeks love intellectual activities that make use of their knowledge, creativity, and logic. Geeks can also be poor communicators, and be prone to interpersonal conflicts. They can also be resistant to following typical organizational policies and structures, believing they should have exemptions based on their specialized work, technical skills, creativity, and intelligence. How to lead them Glen says effective management involves...

3 keys to maintaining control before projects get out of control

Project managers know that a multitude of factors can lead to project failure, including unrealistic goals, poor budgeting, and poor quality control. While the majority of projects that get off target can be saved, the secret to project success is not allowing projects get off target in the first place. To do that involves key steps that are often overlooked and oversimplified: Planning, staffing, and communication. Consider everything According to project managers Ralph R. Young, Steven M. Brady, and Dennis C. Nagle, Jr., authors of How to Save a Failing Project; Chaos to Control, just scheduling, budgeting, and monitoring a project is not enough to produce satisfactory results. Instead, project managers must plan and identify their output (i.e., all the products that the project team must create). A product breakdown structure can be created to define each component of the output, including progress reports, technical analyses, and other deliverables. Attached to this needs to be a work breakdown structure that estimates the resources needed for each aspect of the output.  The project plan should also include a “process model” that outlines the activities and outcomes for each task. If it’s anticipated that some tasks will need to be repeated, enough resources and funding should be allocated. Authors Young, Brady, and Nagle recommend dedicating 10% of the total scheduled project time to early planning and to continuing discussions about potential problems and changes. Pick your people These authors also cite poor personnel decisions as a factor in project failures. Project teams should be balanced and represent multiple skills sets.  Once in place, regular, ongoing meetings should occur to discuss project...

Bolster Corporate Strategy with Business Analysis: 10 Trusted Techniques

It’s no secret – rigorous business analysis is essential to establishing a solid corporate strategy and competitive advantage. In Analysis Without Paralysis, Babette E. Bensoussan and Craig S. Fleisher assert that a thorough analysis of an organization’s strategy, industry, rivals, and business setting can provide an objective assessment of competitive position. Further, analysis can enhance an organization’s capacity to respond to environmental changes, ensuring that decisions are based on solid data and that the tools for improvement and change are available. But where to begin? The authors report that business leaders do not have to be experts in statistics or quantitative analysis to derive the benefits of analysis. A general understanding of 10 analysis techniques can be a good start. BCG Growth/Share Portfolio Matrix The BCG Growth Matrix compares an organization’s current market share to the market’s growth prospects, and places the results in four categories: low growth and high market share equal a “cash cow,” calling for organizations to “milk it for all it’s worth.” high growth and high market share denote a “star,” calling for a timely investment. high growth and low market share can indicate a “problem child,” calling for further study. low growth and low market share mean a “dog,” calling for selling or closing the related business activity. While the matrix is simple, the authors note that market share does not always indicate profitability, while some firms are very successful in low-growth markets. Competitor Analysis Understanding competitors can help organizations discover and manage prospects and risks, and learn about rivals’ strategies, responses, plans, capabilities, and vulnerabilities. A formal and systematic model for analysis involves...

Choosing a Requirements Management Tool

Do you paint with a spoon? Do you pound nails with a pencil? Eat with a shoe? Probably not – they are all the wrong tools for the job. Using them for these purposes will waste time, exhaust resources, and leave you with undesired results. What tool are you using to increase project success, meet stakeholder needs, and achieve overall business goals? The right tool is one specifically designed for requirements management, collaboration, and analysis. Download these free resources to find out everything you need to know to pick the best one. Choose an effective requirements management tool that: Provides traceability, collaboration, prioritization, and more Keeps pace with innovation Achieves excellent business outcomes by providing training, resources, and support; promoting collaboration; and building domain knowledge Put down the spoons, pencils, and shoes. If you’re looking for the right tool for the job at your organization, download the valuable information above. [cta...