plan your analysis
May 27, 2015

Planning your analysis with a model for greater value

By Paul Laughlin

Do you, or your team, spend sufficient time planning your analysis?

When training analysts how to deliver more value, two topics have proved the most popular.

One is training in socratic questioning techniques; to get to the real business need. The other is the 9 step approach to customer analysis.

As many analysts have “fallen into” this line of work, rather than making a conscious education & career choice, few have been trained in methodologies.

The need for a methodical approach

Back in the day, when Data Mining & Data Warehouses were all the rage (I’m really showing my age there), CRISP-DM is one of the methodologies analysts sought to master. However, with the exponential growth of insight analysts, marketing analysts & data scientists, the emphasis appears to be on just coding skills & software mastery.

Where this is the case, too often analysis is an unplanned art, with unreliable timescales & too many “rabbit warrens” being explored. It is perhaps for this reason that delegates on my courses appear to really value having a high level structure to their analysis approach.

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The 9 step model for effective Analysis

I call this approach the 9 step model for analysis. It includes the following steps:

interview prep model
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  1. Socratic Questioning: getting to real business need
  2. Planning & Design: defining approach & gathering resources
  3. Stakeholder Buy-In: getting agreement on what will be delivered
  4. Data: ensuring have quality data needed and learning from it
  5. Analysis: including exploratory data analysis & hypothesis testing
  6. Insight Generation: converging evidence to get to deeper insights
  7. Stakeholder Sign-Off: support for or refining recommendations
  8. Storytelling & Visualisation: capturing hearts & minds for action
  9. Influencing for Action: ensuring appropriate action is taken

A portfolio of Softer Skills for Analysts

Other softer skills are very important as well. When training insight teams, I’ll also focus on storytelling, data visualisation, stakeholder managementinfluencing & following up on your recommendations. No wonder customer insight analyst or manager is such a challenging (as well as rewarding role). Many hybrid skills to master, including a wide range of softer skills.

On the positive side, many of these skills also equip a person well for leadership roles across Marketing and the wider business. Knowing how to think analytically, communicate effectively & influence for action are core skills for leaders.

How are you planning your analysis?

What’s you’re experience of improving the capability of your Customer Insight team? Have you focussed on developing the skills outlined above or other areas? Please do share your tips too.