It's hard to be data-driven when fresh insights only arrive every so often. But, as one of our clients had come to the realization, the implementation of data-driven processes that can answer pressing business questions on time requires building up data literacy throughout the entire organization.
So, this social services organization reached out to us with two clear questions. How could we help them look at their data in a more proactive manner? And what should they do to incorporate trustable reports into decision-making processes across their organization? From the very start, they were aware implementing data-driven processes would demand a profound cultural change for everyone involved.
At the same time, our client realized it would be imperative to rethink essential parts of their current way of working. Employees with data expertise, for example, were still spending a lot of time producing standard BI reports manually. Answering the many ad hoc questions that came on top only added extra workload to their time-consuming reporting tasks. So, by confining these employees’ role to being the interface between data and data consumers, too little use was made of their valuable knowledge.
Our client understood well it would take more than implementing a new BI reporting tool. Instead, they expected more profound gains to come from looking together at how they were getting their data and shaping them, and how all of this can help them build a data-driven process that delivers timely answers to business questions.
As the transformation ahead was likely to be quite drastic, one of our priorities was to ensure key end-users could continue to carry out their data responsibilities throughout the change process. We, therefore, recommended a trajectory that was collaborative at heart and kicked it off with a training session where we introduced the Tableau BI software to domain experts, IT staff, and management.
Next, we aligned everybody involved on which sources contained the most valuable data, and we worked together to make those data available for exploration in weekly co-creation sessions. We then built a reference dashboard based on one of the selected data sources, which served as a valuable output of the co-creation trajectory and a template for future work. That way of working taught some valuable lessons about how BI reporting is more about asking the right questions than finding the right visualizations.
And while this approach enabled key users to learn Tableau functionalities through data they are familiar with, we took care to tune the learning pace to the actual progress they were making. Not all users were moving forward at the same speed, and we know from experience how important it is to sync any plan with how things work out in practice if you want to keep everybody aboard when building a data-driven process.
Our collaborative approach involved our client’s IT partner as well, with whom we worked closely to set up this new BI reporting solution on our client’s virtual infrastructure, seamlessly and securely integrated into their existing user environment.
On top of that, we implemented a data governance structure to ensure that end-users can only consult and build upon the data that are relevant to them. That structure allows other user roles, such as data owners and administrators, to keep a clear oversight of all platform content. Our main goal here was to deliver a foundation on which our client’s team can confidently rely as they keep adding new content in the future.
By sharing responsibilities from the very beginning up to final project delivery, together with our client we sowed the seeds for a thriving data culture. And since we took care to look beyond short-term issues and assignments, everybody is convinced this new BI reporting solution will be successful in the long run. What’s more: the lessons learned throughout this collaborative journey have provided all stakeholders with the confidence to envision future directions.
In close cooperation with all key users, we laid the groundwork for a self-service BI reporting environment in which our client’s employees can efficiently work with data they can trust. The people who know the data best can now spend more time adding value to the content of reports, rather than wasting time on the practicalities of producing reports. That provides decision-makers on any level with valuable insights that were hard to come by before and helps them steer the organization in a data-driven way. The added value of such a data-driven process can hardly be overrated.