Strategy documents…we’ve all been there, right? Sometimes even the very mention of the word ‘strategy’ can induce eye-rolling and scepticism within a group of business professionals, with comments like ‘navel gazing’, ‘stating the obvious’, and ‘delaying the inevitable’ being muttered under breaths. It can be a hard sell. And, even if you get everyone engaged, we all know that the creation of a strategy is just the very start. I’m sure we’ve all seen huge amounts of time and effort invested into creating a ‘strategy’…and then been disappointed by the lack of delivery, or action, that follows on afterwards. Strategies that don’t deliver meaningful value give strategies a bad name!

So, how do we turn this around? How do we create a strategy that is meaningful, fit-for-purpose, and drives tangible action within a business? A strategy that gets shit done. 

This series of eight blogs will take you through the process we’ve developed, iterated, and refined, to create data strategies for 50+ businesses within the last 5 years. These data strategies have then been used to implement data-related actions in a fast, efficient, and cost-effective way. 

What makes a great data strategy?

A great data strategy will enable your business to achieve its business goals – this might be by starting something new, changing the way you do things, or stopping something that isn’t working. A great data strategy will therefore result in a series of coordinated actions, all designed to help your business achieve its vision, or meet its targets. Therefore, the data strategy will be a live document, always being updated as actions are implemented, and regularly reviewed.

A not-so-great data strategy is the opposite – it could be confusing, vague, contradictory, or impossible to implement. A document that never gets read, actioned, referred to, and viewed again. A waste of time. 

So, in a nutshell – a great data strategy will:

  • Share the end goal and the vision…showing the business what they can achieve if they get it right
  • Inspire the business…showing the art of the possible and the best-in-class solutions 
  • Outline the technology options…with comparisons and the rationale for the ultimate recommendations
  • Make the plan as simple as possible…so everyone understands their roles and responsibilities
  • Drive action…with clear timelines, budgets, tasks, and success metrics 

This makes it sound easy. It isn’t. Anyone can share all the detail and make something complex. Making something simple takes far more work. But there are some tried-and-tested techniques you can use to increase your chances of creating a great data strategy on your first attempt.

We use a process we call Discovery & Design where:

  1. Discovery – is like an audit or a fact-find, so this is where you should ask lots of questions, be curious, and explore what’s happening today
  2. Design – is where we shape options, comparisons, and recommendations

For this series of blogs, we’re going to cover each of the seven areas in turn:

  1. BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS – what’s required both today and in future?
  2. DATA SOURCE REVIEW – where is the data, what format is it in, and how can we access it?
  3. REPORTING REVIEW – what dashboards, analytics and reports are in place, and required in future?
  4. TECH STACK OPTIONS – what’s available to meet the business demands?
  5. REPORTING OPTIONS – what’s available to meet the analytics demand?
  6. IMPLEMENTATON PLAN – what should happen when, how, and by whom?
  7. CULTURE CHANGE PLAN – how do we inspire, train, and support the team to deliver the plan?

Within each blog, we will:

  1. Explain the business problem we’re trying to understand, or solve
  2. Introduce tools & templates you can use to undertake objective analysis across your business
  3. Review the potential solutions available
  4. Share some examples of how we do this in practice, to make it real for you

Well, you’re in the right place. If you don’t want to do this yourselves, we can run the Discovery & Design programme for your business. The benefits of outsourcing to us are:

  1. OBJECTIVITY – we bring a fresh pair of eyes to your business and we’re unhindered by office politics, historical business decisions, and legacy systems
  2. INDEPENDENCE – we’re technology-agnostic, so we can give you an independent view, with no vested interest in you selecting, or staying with, a certain vendor, tool, or platform
  3. AWARD-WINNING DATA CONSULTANTS – we’ve done this before…for 75+ projects and for 50+ businesses, so we can bring our wider experience to the mix

When we run a Discovery & Design programme for one of our clients, it typically takes 4 weeks depending on the scope of the project. Most businesses want results quickly and simply…so that’s what we do – we worry about the complexity, so you don’t have to.

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