Data-driven culture, phase 3: Prioritise opportunities

Why prioritise the opportunities of analytics and how can this really be done? Read tips here on how to select where to start and how to utilise proven tools on your way towards a data-driven culture!

This text discusses the third phase in my series of blogs aiming at a data-driven culture. In the first phase, we recognised the maturity level of analytics in your organisation. In the second phase, we recognised the opportunities of analytics in your organisation. In this third phase – which is highly important for the realisation of the potential benefits offered by analytics – we will prioritise the opportunities recognised during the previous phase. In other words, we are now able to recognise key factors from among all the different opportunities. If we focus on these, data-driven solutions will repay themselves in just a couple of months.

The task of prioritisation is to place different development ideas and wishes into an order of implementation

It is obvious that we want to have “low hanging fruits” to be first in line. These are solutions that are as simple as possible and produce the highest business value. Therefore, we need to specify reasons for why certain opportunities need to come first in the order of prioritisation.

On our way towards a data-driven culture, we have declared war on the “because I feel like it” culture, and we cannot fall for the traditional “Who has the loudest voice?” method as early as in the design phase.

Instead, our goal is to clearly answer the following questions: What advantages does each opportunity have and how hard are they to implement?

To give reasons, we need to apply the Six Sigma prioritisation matrix developed by Motorola and visualise our results by using the prioritisation square tool.

Six Sigma prioritisation matrix – laborious, but worth the effort

The prioritisation matrix is one part of the extensive toolbox of Six Sigma quality management. As a method, the prioritisation matrix has a fairly heavy structure, but its strengths include the documentary structure of the decision-making process and the division of large problems into small “Which one would you choose?” questions that are intuitive to people. We can come back to the complete prioritisation matrix later during a new round of prioritisation, and it can later be updated, for example, when evaluation criteria are revised.

Six Sigma prioritisation consists of six different phases to define the target state and success indicators, using which the opportunities of analytics are measured. The result is a simple summary of the ratio of business benefits and workload.

Six phases towards a simple result

The Six Sigma toolbox is utilised in six phases that are briefly described below.

Phase 1. Define a common goal

Together with people taking part in prioritisation, define a common goal for analytics to which everyone can be committed. By setting concrete goals, you can avoid any misunderstandings and write a list of criteria more easily in the next phase.

Phase 2. Define comparison criteria

On the basis of your goal, write a list of criteria that you use to compare different implementation ideas. Remember to set risks as one comparison criterion.

Phase 3. Compare your criteria

Not all criteria have the same value. Set different percentage values for your criteria, according to their importance.

Phase 4. List future opportunities

This phase was carried out during the previous phase of our series of blogs. Check your previously recorded opportunities of analytics, and analyse them in the light of recently listed priorities.

If necessary, modify your ideas so that you can evaluate them from the point of view of your criteria. Make your ideas concrete and, if required, divide them into smaller parts. The simpler your ideas are, the easier it will be to complete the next phase.

Phase 5. Evaluate your opportunities

Evaluate your opportunities on the basis of your criteria, either by using the Six Sigma XY matrix or a relative percentage evaluation suitable for quick experimenting.

Phase 6. Summary

Evaluate the workload and draw a graph, where the workload is on the x-axis and the potential of opportunities rated on the basis of your criteria is on the y-axis. Prioritise the opportunities that produce the best business results, starting with the lightest workload. You will have a simple matrix that clearly indicates which recognised opportunities of analytics have the most potential in relation to the workload.

Figure. Potential of opportunities in relation to the workload. The most laborious and the least productive opportunities are in the lower left corner.

In the next phase, I will tell you how you can acquire the expertise required to concretely implement these opportunities. If you want to start moving quickly, please contact us and we will help you get started.

Olli Lindroos works for Solita’s Agile Data team. He is a passionate student and proponent of data-driven culture, with an interest in technology in all of its forms, whether it’s about the user experience, technical implementation or business strategy opportunities. Olli describes himself as a dad and a nerd, as well as a food and drink aficionado. In his free time, Olli likes to try out all the newest trends as a consumer and building the IoT equipment he needs by himself.