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Assess Before You Leap: The Value of Assessments

Posted by Nancy Couture on Jun 30, 2016 5:32:00 AM

As organizations strive to continue responding to market changes and opportunities, there is an increasing need for operational and strategic information to better support the business. Before committing to or starting work on a large Business Intelligence (BI) initiative, which is typically a significant investment, organizations are increasingly recognizing the advantages of conducting a program assessment.

When engaged as your trusted strategic advisor, Datasource Consulting assessments leverage a proven methodology that is molded to your organization’s needs. Since every organization’s BI and Enterprise Data Management (EDM) requirements are different, the optimal mix of people, processes and technologies for each program may vary. To ensure our assessments meet each client’s unique needs, we start with in-depth discussions to help determine the scope of the assessment. That allows us to identify the specific areas to be examined, and then tailor our proven approach accordingly. The resulting assessment provides both a strategic future state roadmap, and a tactical plan for actionable next steps.

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MOTIVATION

Organizations typically choose to do an assessment either because they do not currently have EDM capabilities in place and are looking for a new enterprise solution, or because the EDM solution they have needs to be upgraded or enhanced. Either way, a Datasource assessment is an invaluable initial step in the right direction.

A PROVEN METHODOLOGY

Datasource assessments are low-cost, short-term projects that examine key aspects of an organization that could impact the overall success of a BI initiative. Assessments are designed to focus on areas needed to meet the client’s objectives and can include overall EDM, or focus on specific areas in the EDM space.  Goals are defined at the beginning of the process, to ensure each assessment delivers the value an organization wants and needs.

We then move forward using a collaborative approach, meeting with team members in both IT and the business. Beginning with a current state analysis, Datasource will examine the maturity, efficiency and effectiveness of factors such as the organization, processes, architecture, and technologies of the existing environment. Including a cross-section of representatives across the organization provides a comprehensive view of the current state, establishing the foundation for a thorough and accurate assessment.

Deliverables from a completed assessment provide the client with a strategic future state roadmap, along with a tactical plan for actionable next steps. The detailed report and/or presentation typically includes documentation of current state, findings and recommendations, a future state vision, a roadmap and estimates, and a benefits summary.

The assessment deliverables, including the roadmap and tactical plan for actionable next steps, are designed to stand alone. This ensures the value of the assessment can be effectively leveraged moving forward whether Datasource is engaged, the client chooses a different partner, or uses internal resources.

MULTIPLE POINTS OF VALUE

As you consider engaging Datasource to provide this service for your organization, it may be helpful to consider the multiple points of value past clients have experienced.

  • The assessment identifies potential risks that should be considered in decision making. Since BI initiatives are typically challenging and complex, they often require a significant investment and long-term commitment of resources. An assessment provides independent validation by experts in the field, of the approach or proposal an organization has developed, including identification of any red flags that could result in financial or operational missteps
  • The assessment process can serve to build awareness and unilateral support of an initiative, since IT and the business are included and involved. Datasource brings an independent, third-party expert perspective, including case studies and examples of best practices.
  • Simply discovering and documenting current state can be important. This need often arises when IT personnel are new to the organization.
  • Taking the opportunity to explore future state requirements can help organizations in their strategic planning.
  • Using an objective third-party resource can create or confirm a realistic readout of the approach, options and estimates involved in an implementation.
  • When considering Datasource as a partner, an assessment provides the organization with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of our methodology, approach, knowledge, experience and expertise – before engaging in a full program launch.
  • Assessment results can be acted upon quickly.

AREAS INCLUDED IN ASSESSMENTS

Although each assessment is tailored to fit an organization’s specific needs, following are the most common areas requested for inclusion.

  • Program / Project Management: Understand the maturity of the EDM program from the perspective of business and technical resources, governance, project selection/estimation/measurement, and overall BI maturity.  Understand how the organization executes BI projects from cradle to grave and determine if consistent and repeatable processes are leveraged.
  • Technology: Evaluate the technology mix and overall fit for the organizational goals.
  • Data Governance (DG): Assess how the organization embraces and leverages data governance to treat data as a tangible asset.
  • Metadata Management: Evaluate the planning, implementation, and control activities related to technical, operational and business data definitions.
  • Data Quality: Assess how the organization embraces and leverages data quality to improve and track the state of data within the organization.
  • Data Architecture: Analyze the data architecture associated with the program, delving into the key processes, components and approaches to ensuring data is consistently managed as it moves through various IT systems within the organization.  Particular attention will be paid to data transformation layers and approaches, source systems, data volumes, and data modeling.
  • Data Integration: Assess how ETL is implemented in the organization.  Consideration will be paid to the specific tools and their fit, development standards, automation, usage and overall ETL inventory.
  • Application Integration: Assess the current application landscape and identify opportunities and approach for integrating new and legacy business applications to maximize business output.
  • Master Data Management (MDM): Evaluate the existing and/or planned MDM and Reference Data Management (RDM) capability (plan, scope, architecture, technology, and governance) within the organization to manage the physical and contextual characteristics of critical data elements.
  • Data Warehouse (DW): Assess planning, Implementation and control processes to provide decision support data in support of Reporting and Analytics.  This includes leveraging technologies, architectures, processes, and people to move data from the in scope data sources through the targeted presentation layer accessed by reporting and analytic tools.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Assess how analytics and reporting is implemented in the organization.  Consideration will be paid to the specific tools and their fit, development standards, automation, usage and overall report inventory.  Gather high-level sentiment about data quality, data freshness, and data completeness currently accessible for analytics and reporting.
  • Existing Roadmap Evaluation: Evaluate an existing program roadmap, with a focus on opportunities for technology/architecture, staffing, and high-value projects.

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PARTNER WITH US

Do you have a current Data Quality initiative? Do you have any unanswered questions or are you unsure of the long-term direction of your initiative? We’d love to help. Take a few minutes to send us an email about your project. We'll put you in touch with our Data Quality Practice Lead and, if interested, discuss whether one of our strategic assessments may be right for you.

Our assessments leverage a proven methodology to evaluate the maturity, efficiency, and effectiveness of your Data Management initiative and provide a roadmap to implement incremental changes, unlocking the business value of your data.

Want to know first hand how a thorough assessment can highly improve the status of your project?Download our case study on one of the largest pet retailers in the U.S. Learn how they leveraged a Datasource assessment to select a software vendor that best met their unique requirements.

Topics: Program Management, Blog, Project Management

Written by Nancy Couture