Challenges of Analytics Program Implementation

Most projects are not implemented in a vacuum; analytic programs, IT infrastructure and platform implementations, and business development initiatives are all executed in a live operational business environment. These environments, specifically when implementing an Analytics Program, create unique challenges to the project or program’s successful execution if not taken into account in the communications management plan, the stakeholder management plan, and the risk management plan. Corporate stakeholder buy-in, particularly that from management, is perhaps one of the most important factors that a project manager must obtain in order to properly execute an analytics program implementation in a non-projectized environment.

Management Needed to Unlock Silos

Analytics programs need data. Management is often needed to grant access to the data silos that an effective analytics program needs in order to build its models. The management team needs to understand the importance of the analytics program to the organizational strategic objective. In many organizations data is housed throughout the company and not easily accessible cross-departmentally. Departments with neutral or negative stakeholders can cause significant barriers by restricting the data flow from these silos. Opening these silos itself requires significant changes in both security and policy, and in many cases may even involve human resources, IT departments, and legal to route the data properly and securely, even if a dedicated data warehouse is not created as part of the program. This will be a substantial stressor on the managers department, and the executive management team needs to be very clear about the importance of each department’s full cooperation.

Management as a Monitor and Control Tool

The stress on the department will be mostly felt on the staff. Management is needed in order to monitor and control the company culture which will not only be impacted by successful implementation, but can also adversely affect implementation. Some of the project requirements may possibly be seen as a burden to some of the staff who will have increased responsibilities as a result of the program. Some of the staff may also be negative-stakeholders, stakeholders who are negatively impacted by successful project implementation and execution and these individuals will need to be managed in order that the project is not internally sabotaged (intentionally or unintentionally).

Some of the staff may also be negative-stakeholders, stakeholders who are negatively impacted by successful project implementation and execution and these individuals will need to be managed in order that the project is not internally sabotaged (intentionally or unintentionally).

Education is key to ensure that these individuals understand the strategic importance of this project.

The first priority of the PM is to ensure that the management team will actively support the program initialization and the stakeholder management plan needs to take this into account. Properly educating the management team on not only the importance of the program but also the limits of the program will enable them to prepare their departments for the changes and often the increase to workload.

Leverage the Time Management Plan.

Although the nature of a predictive data analytics program lends itself to agile approaches, a project time management plan can provide managers with estimated time loads that each department will experience as the program progresses so that resources can be managed efficiently. Initial parts of the implementation is going to put increased loads on existing staff as they adapt to new systems, become more data-focused, adopt new policies, etc., and the time management plan in combination with the risk management plan needs to account for this to minimize any negative effect on the existing operational environment.

Manage Stakeholder Opinions

When implementing technology not generally understood by most people in the organization, including management, it is also extremely important that management and employees understand what the system will do and what it cannot do; this will help manage expectations of key stakeholders and minimize the effect of “playing telephone” which can create at best unrealistic expectations and at worst propagate unmerited negative opinions creating a hostile implementation environment.

The communications management plan must include a corporate education plan in order that the stakeholder’s vision of what the project is aligns with the actual Program goals and capabilities. Managing stakeholders opinions, especially staff who will “bare the burden” created by the program in its initial stages as previously noted, is essential. The project manager needs to teach the staff how they are to think of the project to ensure that negative misconceptions do not start becoming a reality.