In a recent article we discussed how the data & analytics strategy supports the corporate goals outlined in your corporate strategy. This article outlines how a data & analytics roadmap helps you to deliver your data & analytics strategy.
An effective data & analytics strategy is made up of several key pillars including vision, skills and culture, data governance, technology and architecture as well as the roadmap. It is the collective delivery against each of these pillars that will deliver the expected business value, and a core driver of that success lies in building a strong roadmap.
What is a data & analytics roadmap?
One way that you can view a data and analytics roadmap is to liken it to a delivery plan for your data and analytics strategy. Because it’s a delivery plan, it must include concrete and actionable steps that, when put into practice, will contribute to delivering the vision set out in the strategy.
The roadmap sets how you will realise the benefits and value set out in the overall strategy, it defines what work items need to be completed, by whom and the order of execution. Your roadmap will inform stakeholders of the timelines and effort required across multiple resources.
Any roadmap will need to follow a practical implementation path, with work items being prioritised and sequenced appropriately.
A data & analytics roadmap is built on specific agreed deliverables and it’s vital that such deliverables and goals are clearly defined and aligned with corporate objectives and not focused on narrow, IT-centric, outcomes.
Once defined, the deliverables can then be analysed and broken down into actionable tasks with estimations and assignment to resources across the business. Dependencies can then be established between tasks such as the generation of sample data or data definitions contributing to a common understanding of the domain.
A living document
The roadmap is an active undertaking. It should be constantly reviewed, with roadmap items reprioritised accordingly and under the appropriate governance. Accordingly, there will be continual opportunity to implement new ideas as you progress through of the implementation of your strategy. Accordingly, there will be continual opportunity to implement new ideas as you progress through of the implementation of your strategy.
In other words, the roadmap should live and breathe, changing with the times. There should always be room to adjust and make changes to the roadmap, adding updates when and if necessary, so that it remains constantly relevant to the business strategy. Approaching the roadmap in this fashion will protect the business from straying from the wider goals of the business and stagnating.
A data & analytics roadmap plays a crucial role in linking together each pillar of your strategy.
For example, when it comes to the skills and culture pillar, data literacy is a key concern. Learning initiatives can be employed in this sector to raise the collective data knowledge across the entire organisation. This will in turn lead to improved understanding of data and analytics, and a greater willingness to adopt future data initiatives.
Or, depending on whether your organisation has the right people available, recruiting experts in the field may need to come before delivering technology infrastructure. However, if you already have the in-house expertise to cope with the necessary changes to architecture and technology, then you may only need to bring in external talent to operate and maintain its growth afterwards.
As with any delivery plan, the roadmap must consider such dependencies and prioritise the right actions at the right time.
A key trait of a robust roadmap is a consideration of all the strategic pillars and how they will feed into each other. Taken as a whole, these deliverables will form a tight link between the wider strategy and the operational nuances of your data and analytics initiatives.
In all cases, it’s usually best to keep the roadmap simple to begin with. Focus on building the early stages of your data and analytics roadmap around the most valuable data currently available to your organisation. Delivering short-term business value provides validation for the continued initiative and helps overcome change resistance within the organisation. In short: aim high, start small, and deliver value early.
Ultimately, a successful data and analytics roadmap will be dynamic, evolving in tandem with corporate goals and market forces to produce real business value.
This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.
Nick Finch is currently CTO at TrueCue leading the engineering effort behind the TrueCue Platform as well as CIO across Concentra. A specialist in building and leading teams focused on delivering scalable, bespoke cloud based solutions and products with over 19 years' experience in technical and leadership roles across data analytics, development, infrastructure, information security and QA.