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Connected, All-in-One.  Part 4,  BI & Analytics

October 4, 2018
Picture of Eric Baughman

Written by Eric Baughman

Director, Product Management


The theme throughout this five-part blog series has been delivering more value to customers, faster, while adapting to change through our agile corporate anatomy.  This outcome driven, value focus is the essence of Business Intelligence (BI) & Analytics, Part 4 of our series.  Through BI and analytics, we seek to answer the bigger, more important questions as they relate to the mission, and what our work, projects, and programs serve to deliver as a whole in the broader context of successful, happy customers.  With BI and analytics, we elevate above the project status and health updates, and get to the needed answers for the business.

“Data and analytics must drive modern business operations, not just reflect them.” - Gartner

Historically we have looked for answers through meetings, from basic status updates to deeper insights into project and programs performance, challenges, and outcomes.  Beyond the shortfalls of stale, inaccurate data from static PowerPoints and spreadsheets, meetings more often prove to be highly inefficient and costly activities versus the source of valuable answers.  Ted.com summarized the meeting challenge with statics, including:

  • "A meeting between several managers or execs may cost upward of $1,000 per hour.”
  • “Executives on average spend 40-50% of their working hours in meetings.”
  • “50% of people find meetings to be unproductive.”

Alternatives to meetings are dashboards and standard reporting tools, which help, but are typically limited to a common set of insights for a particular project or program, leaving the big picture in question.

With agility as work deliverables become smaller, more frequent, and more numerous, it gets increasingly harder to see the big picture – to get a holistic view of the work.  In fact, even before the rapid proliferation of agile practices there was a need for a holistic view because of the many disparate systems and project tools across the enterprise. For many organizations, they struggle to know what projects and work even exists, which is the fundamental starting point before you can seek to understand, analyze, and make better decisions.  To solve this challenge at Coras we use a mind-map style view that paints the complete picture, including the ability to zoom-in on targeted program/projects/work elements, or zoom-out to groups, projects or the whole. 

The holistic view across teams, and across the organization, not only benefits leadership but helps managers and team members – connecting everyone together.  This is the second benefit of a mind-map style approach, the relationship or connections among work to creating an understanding of where things are, and how all the pieces fit together.  As my boss frequently reminds me “it’s often what you don’t know that gets you in trouble.”

The source of your answers from which BI and analytics draw from shouldn’t be limited to a single data store, for risk of getting an incomplete story.  Project and program analytics become far more powerful when you can include relevant data from other sources.  Current technology makes this possible, so you can leverage the right data to get the right answers.   

Once the right data is brought together, it’s important that it is understandable.  The vast majority of Executives and Managers aren’t data scientists, so the data has to be understandable.  In my experience, this is done best through a data story, where graphs, charts, and novel visualizations are wrapped with a narrative and commentary.  Furthermore, the connection to the data shouldn't simply be to generate the visualizations and analysis, but allow for drill-down and taking action too.

Stay tuned for the final blog in the series October 5th, when we tie the corporate anatomy together with "connections."  We’ll have the complete infographic displayed at booth 621, October 6-9 at the PMI Global Conference in Los Angeles, CA.   Stop by if you’re there, we’d love to chat and learn from you. If not, comment below.  We value your feedback!


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