Nightmare on Analyst Street


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We all have irrational fears. I find myself getting panicked over being late for things, even when I know that it truly won’t matter.

Over time we have come to note a quite common fear among analysts. An incredible uneasiness over reporting that clouds their better judgement from recognizing all the benefits it can bring both them and other stakeholders. The following 2 thoughts may bring great despair to analysts:

Automated reporting will lead my colleagues to devalue my work

The purpose of reporting is to ensure that each stakeholder has the information they need to help improve outcomes. We occasionally see a subconscious sabotage of its value, however. It’s not uncommon for analysts to attempt to maintain ownership of reporting data and limit accessibility for others, creating a dependency on them. Or conversely, they may insist on using sophisticated tools that their executives/colleagues may not be able to use, either due to lack of training or lack of time. In doing so, they ensure that their unique ‘set of skills’ means that they alone can use, manage and interpret dashboards. This may be particularly true for BI and visual discovery tools that require time and energy to fully exploit, and often are too complex for all key stakeholders to use – even though performance-based reporting needs to be open to all.

Sometimes we also see analysts hiding behind manual processes – maintaining a sense of mystery so that others within the company don’t know what they are doing.

How can analysts prove the value of their work to their colleagues?

You do have a specific set of skills that others don’t often have. But that skill set is not manually compiling data, nor is it limiting access to data. It is analysis. You learn and are trained in the art of recognizing patterns and correlations, searching for the reasons why these are occurring and developing innovative and original solutions which can be tested and evaluated.

Instead of worrying about how automated reporting may lead other stakeholders to devalue your work, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your extreme value and make it impossible for your colleagues to ignore this by:

  • effectively communicating insights in a transparent forum where they are linked to your own analysis
  • developing the best possible recommendations by exploring the data and testing ideas
  • provoking action among those with decision making authority
  • linking the impact of actions that have come about as a response to your suggestions directly to KPIs and demonstrating how they have helped your organization to achieve targets

Reporting will increase transparency

Transparency can be a frightening term for anyone within an organization.

For analysts accustomed to spending (or wasting) time on manual reporting it can be especially scary. When some analysts hear that automated reporting can save them time by automating aspects of their jobs and thereby freeing them up to focus on more meaningful insights and recommendations they shake in their boots. These analysts hope that business users don’t ask difficult questions about performance, and may fear exposure if they are unable to answer them.

Sometimes they feel unqualified to provide insights and recommendations as a result of lack of experience or practice. This is completely normal and we all fear being held accountable for work we aren’t comfortable with.

How can analysts overcome this fear?

They should utilize transparency themselves.

Speak to these other stakeholders to inform them of your position. Let them know that you are not confident with this new task that had previously not been in your work description. Ask for help and most importantly ask for time. Use this to educate yourself as much as possible and as you begin to demonstrate the value of your learning your work will no doubt be recognized.

Furthermore, use testing to your advantage. Before implementing any large scale action across your business you should be testing. Use this over time to help you improve your recommendations and expand your repertoire of insight.

Have you seen this nightmare among analysts? How have they woken up from the torment to ensure the most efficient analysis and sharing of insights possible?

We hope you have an eerily fun Halloween weekend! Look out for our final reporting horror story next week, and if you missed Excel Hell and The Metric Graveyard, don’t forget to check them out.

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Nathan Easom

Director of Sales for Sweetspot. Works with customers to streamline their reporting, saving companies hours of valuable time and helping them react quicker to insights. Languages graduate from the University of Nottingham, UK. A banjo-picking, ice hockey playing Englishman in New York.

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