Raw data in and of itself is not always useful. The value lies in taking this raw data and analyzing it in order to track performance, gain insights, and more. But before you dive into a data analysis project there are 10 questions that you really should address.
In my last article I addressed the first five of the 10 questions that should be answered before you begin a data analysis project. Today I’ll delve into the other five.
- What data sources will you be pulling from?
Before you can analyze any data you need to first determine exactly what data you have available that could be used in the project. How many data sources do you have? What format is this data in? Is there market or competitive data available that you can also use? For example, a company that puts on seminars might have three different internal databases: registration data that includes seminar topic, date and location; actual attendance data including name, company name, industry and address; and a client list that includes name, company name, industry and address. But two of these databases might be in spreadsheet format, while the third resides in their accounting system.
- What internal resources are available for this project?
Is there a budget? Do you have people on staff who can get the project set up? Do you have staff members who can do the work once someone else sets it?
- Who are the stakeholders and how will they be using the data?
Who needs to have sign-off and be involved with the data analysis project’s design? What are each stakeholder’s goals for the project? Keep in mind that there are often differences in how each person will use the end results.For example, the CEO wants to know how many prospects each seminar brought in, and the dollar volume of the resulting sales. The Marketing Manager wants to know which marketing campaign had the best response. Operations wants to know if there were any issues that need to be addressed. And so forth.
- How do you want to consume the project’s results? What should reporting look like?
What would make the analyzed data most useful for you? Do you want…
- An online portal with a dashboard, with all of the important data pulled into one easy-to access file? And if so, do you want all authorized personnel to have access to the same data, or will some level of data security be required?
- An Excel spreadsheet?
- A PowerPoint presentation explaining the results?
- A 1-page summary with an action plan?
- Do you need to interact with or update the data, or just be able to view it?
Your answer to this question will result in different system requirements. Say your data analysis project results in a map of dealer and competitor locations. Do you just need to be able to see this map? Do you want your sales people to be able to click on something and update various aspects of this information in real time? Do your managers want to be able to drill down into the details of each dealership? What exactly will you need?
Whether you’re tackling the data analysis task yourself or bringing in experts like MacKenzie Corp to get things done for you, the answers to these 10 questions will determine the project’s cost, scope, design and timeline.