How to Build a Successful Data Team
Data is a key part of every business, from the smallest startup to the largest corporation. However, many companies fail to understand its true value—or how much it can help them achieve their goals. Here are just some of the ways data can be used:
● To drive decision-making and improve processes. Data can be used for everything from picking which cities to open new stores in, to figuring out what products will sell well
● To improve products and services. Data helps businesses understand their customers better and create offerings that meet their needs
In order for your organization to better understand data and create a robust data strategy, you’ll need a dedicated data team.
Key People in a Data Team
Once you have goals in mind, you’ll want to hire the right people for a successful data analytics team:
They create and maintain systems for collecting, storing, and analyzing large amounts of data. They help manage data pipelines that pull information from different sources and funnel it into the appropriate systems at the right time.
They generate reports and analysis based on clean data and play a crucial role in communicating it to stakeholders. They may also suggest ways to use data to address issues.
They use large sets of either structured and unstructured datasets to analyze, explain, and aid in the decision-making of businesses. This position is viewed as an advanced version of a data analyst and is frequently involved with machine learning and cloud computing.
Head of Data
An organization's Head of Data is charged with overseeing all efforts within data analytics and the data warehouse. They make sure that tasks are executed correctly and in line with the general goals of the company.
Business analysts typically work in marketing or finance with a goal of making the daily operations and systems of a company better. Proficiency in SQL and basic data analytic abilities will help them be the go-between for IT and business.
Communications: The Core of Data Team Success
If your company intends to use data strategy to enhance operations and analyze results, the employees must also be data literate. Given that those who will be interested in datasets will come from various departments and management levels, their individual information needs will also be varied. Using different strategies like data visualization can help communicate data to management will be essential.
Align With Company Goals and Challenges
When building a successful data team, you need to understand what it is your company wants to do. Consider how the business values its data assets and how it plans on leveraging them in the future.
Determine what team members and skills are required to reach those goals, and then form a team capable of accomplishing it. Make sure to communicate clearly with all stakeholders about what is being done, how it will affect them and provide a forecast of expected results and metrics for success.
Find the Data
Identify the current state of data at your organization and the capabilities that are in place. A minimum viable stack should be in place so that you can quickly get your team up and running with the bare minimum of features and capabilities necessary to address your business problems.
Create Quick Wins
It's important to take baby steps while you create your team and processes. Schedule time for the data team and stakeholders to review project goals and timetables in order to manage expectations.
You can begin by identifying some quick wins that can be achieved shortly after beginning a new project. This will allow you and your team members to demonstrate your worth through measurable or tangible results. Quick wins can be used as references for pursuing future financing or client approval.
Speak Suit-talk (Dashboards)
Dashboards are the key to communicating progress to management so make sure you're using them well. They are an excellent tool for visualizing data in a way that's easy to understand, which is useful when it comes time to present your findings.
Have a clear understanding of what information needs to be displayed on the dashboard to help everyone involved better understand how the project is progressing.
Manage Expectations for Budgeting and Larger Projects
After several quick wins, you’ll be able to build credibility with management and demonstrate the value of having a dedicated data team. This will give you the confidence to approach management about upgrading the tech stack. Seize ownership of the proposed budget and the scope of the project by providing realistic milestones and deadlines.
Don't overextend yourself. Managing expectations will help you avoid getting bogged down by technical debt.
Train and Acknowledge Your Team
It's your job to ensure that each person on the team is well-trained and equipped to do their job. Provide your team with sufficient support to learn how to use your company's tools, data sets, and processes.
Additionally, it’s important to help build their interpersonal skills. Conduct regular meetings where everyone can raise concerns and agree on next steps. This also helps avoid any miscommunication or frustration.
Avoid These Pitfalls
The most important thing you can do as you build your data team and take on projects is to avoid these common pitfalls:
Many data teams think that they need the newest software or technology to be efficient. It's a good thing that many of today's technologies now have pay-per-consumption structures, making it possible for you to measure ROI before making any big commitments.
Slow Delivery Times
If developers are working on projects that take too long to finish, then the whole team is at risk of falling behind schedule and slowing down your business's progress in terms of data collection and analysis. This also won’t sit well with management.
Missing the Mark
Your data team should always have clear goals with concrete deliverables. Otherwise you may be stuck with an ineffective team that fails to address management’s concerns or meet the organization’s goals.
Also, before sending requests to your team, make sure they have all they need and convey what management needs. When meeting with management, present charts or graphs to help explain the findings then ensure all team members have read and understood the report so nothing is missed.
Conclusion: Actionable Communications
After a significant investment in your team, your company will expect meaningful results. Therefore, your data team should deliver the relevant data that will aid in making data-driven decisions to advance the company's strategic goals.
Effective communication will be your key to success. It's a two-way street: the team must communicate with the company, and vice versa. The data team must empower the organization by helping them in understanding data, but they also require insights from management to steer them in the right direction. The corporation should also convey its goals to the data team so that they understand how their projects fit into the overarching plan of the organization.