Managing Your Analytics Team

by Mar 23, 2020

As we begin to wrap up this blog series on improv­ing digital analyt­ics at your orga­ni­za­tion, I’d like to spend some time talking about your most valu­able resource — your team. While we have discussed many differ­ent aspects of digital analyt­ics in this series, at the end of the day the actual analy­sis that your team provides is what matters. To make an impact on your orga­ni­za­tion, you need people who can effec­tively lever­age the data you are collect­ing to improve your digital prop­er­ties. That means you need a great team with the expe­ri­ence and drive passion to deliver results.

In our indus­try, finding great talent is often cited as a key chal­lenge. The digital analyt­ics indus­try is hot and there is no short­age of high-paying jobs. That means finding people is diffi­cult and you may have to pay them more than you expected. Even worse, once you find people, the odds are that someone is calling them to steal them away from you!

So, in this climate, how do you build and main­tain a great analyt­ics team? Let’s start by discussing who you should have on your team. I have found that the best analyt­ics teams have a blend of differ­ent skills that comple­ment each other. Obvi­ously, you need some folks who are great at analy­sis, love spread­sheets and think SQL is a way of life. But you also need other types of team members such as:

  • People who are able to talk to the busi­ness and under­stand their needs and ideally be able to trans­late those needs to devel­op­ers to archi­tect a solu­tion
  • People who under­stand the tech­nolo­gies of the web and mobile apps and can commu­ni­cate effec­tively with devel­op­ers on imple­men­ta­tion tasks
  • People who are comfort­able present­ing data to stake­hold­ers and are able to learn how to do that in a mean­ing­ful way vs. simply throw­ing data at them
  • People who are detail-oriented that want to take the time to QA your data and make sure it is accu­rate
  • People who are famil­iar with languages like R or Python, which are increas­ingly being used in the digital analyt­ics field

As you can see, there are a lot of varied skills needed. If you manage a small team, this can be tough, and you may have to rely on outside resources or find people who can wear multi­ple hats.

When it comes to retain­ing your team and fending off those pesky head­hunters, I have found that the teams that adopt a profit center approach (or ther­mo­stat) are usually able to keep their resources. If your team feels like the work they are doing is helping the company and its bottom line, their jobs tend to be satis­fy­ing. But if your team is more of a cost center and simply running reports, your resources will start looking for new oppor­tu­ni­ties. That is why some of the approaches outlined in previ­ous posts are so essen­tial. Here is one more tip related to this. Consider giving your digital analysts one day a month to go off the grid and iden­tify some­thing they think could be improved on the website. Let them spend a day pulling the data they need and have them present their idea to the full team. In addi­tion to giving them a break, I have found this tech­nique to be very empow­er­ing. Even analysts like to be creative and if they make a good case and it gets adopted, they will be riding high for months! When employ­ees can point to some­thing tangi­ble on the website that was improved because of them, they have a sense of pride that few recruiters can pene­trate!

It is also impor­tant for the leader of the digital analyt­ics team to devote time to evan­ge­liz­ing for the team. Every team within an orga­ni­za­tion needs a cheer­leader to tell others how great they are and how they are posi­tively impact­ing the busi­ness. Normally this job falls to the head of the digital analyt­ics team. While it may feel uncom­fort­able at first, part of this role is evan­ge­lism. Build­ing a great repu­ta­tion for your team within the orga­ni­za­tion will help open up a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties for the indi­vid­ual team members so it is time well spent. It can also lead to funds for addi­tional tools and pay raises!

Action Items

Your home­work for this post is to:

  • Make a skills matrix and think about what skills you feel your team needs and how each skill is being addressed today. If there are defi­cien­cies, iden­tify ways to fill the gaps.
  • Check-in with your employ­ees and find out how they are doing and what moti­vates them. Help them build a career path that is win-win for them and the orga­ni­za­tion.
  • Try out giving employ­ees time to explore their own ideas for the website and make a case for them.
  • Start evan­ge­liz­ing for your digital analyt­ics team so key people in the orga­ni­za­tion know who you are and what your team can do.

In the next post, we will wrap up the series.

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