Managing Your Analytics Team

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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