The quality of the answers we receive in life is correlated to the quality of the questions we ask. What’s true in life is also true in association business.

When we first begin to understand a client’s unique business needs and current data situation, we start by asking questions.   There are two aspects of measurement that are important with data analytics:  measuring the right things and measuring things right.  We believe that by taking the time to ask the right questions in the beginning, you can ensure that you are measuring the right things.  These are some of the questions you might already be asking – and if you haven’t started asking these questions yet, don’t worry – there is no time like the present!

  • Do our members use data to make decisions?
  • What is important to our member’s customers?
  • What is the profile of our “ideal” member?
  • How does our data map to our strategic plan?
  • Who are our “at-risk” members?
  • How do we measure member engagement?
  • How do we price our services and products?

We also recommend starting a BI initiative with a review of your strategic plan.  How does the data you have map to it?  Is there additional data that you need in order to meet your strategic objectives?  Next conduct staff interviews and review both the business need for the information as well as the technical details about what data should be analyzed.

By understanding both your current data situation and your strategic business objectives, you can identify the gaps between your current and the ideal state.  This gap analysis will identify what should be done to the current data environment in order to satisfy future data consumption objectives.

BI is a business project – not an IT one.  Technology is just the enabler.  The process must involve a cross-functional team that includes both technical and business staff.  Combining technical knowledge (data architecture) with business knowledge (challenges and opportunities) is vital for context and allows team members to see the complete picture.  DSK has an established process for optimal team identification, which includes questions that assist in defining the roles and responsibilities needed for each phase of the project. We find that a staff member’s formal title is not the only indicator of whether they will be a valuable contributor to the team.  Every team member should believe that the initiative is worthwhile and understand the importance of using data.

Our experience has shown us that there is more than one type of BI solution which can be implemented for a client.  The right solution is dependent on business need, data sources and available resources.  Much more important than the technical solution is whether you are asking the right questions – the answers to which will help your association thrive in the coming decades.