The best practice for implementing a BI initiative at associations is to start small and identify areas where they can get quick wins using data analytics.  An effective tool we use at DSK Solutions is to start by crowd-sourcing with your staff to develop a pool of business questions and then facilitating a BI Priorities Session to narrow the scope to what is most valuable to the organization.  We follow a six step process to discover the metrics that are most important for each unique association. Assn BI Meeting

1. Prepare

DSK prepares by meeting with the project sponsor and identifying the specific objectives for the BI meeting.  Then, create an overall purpose statement to drive the session.  For example, a recent meeting purpose was “to identify the top 10 membership metrics to visualize during Phase 1 of our BI initiative.”  After clarifying the purpose, it becomes easy to develop the agenda and sample deliverables that match the meeting goal.

2. Begin the Meeting

Next, it is important to start the meeting by involving the entire group.  It is essential to share with the team the details about what is going to happen, excite the participants about the potential for the BI results, and give them a feeling of empowerment to contribute.

3. Brainstorm

After that we start the brainstorming section by opening the floor to suggestions about the topic that fall within the stated objectives of the meeting (to save time, the participants are given the “homework” beforehand).  It is our goal to be neutral, while helping the team stay on track and avoid going down any rabbit holes.  The purpose of the brainstorming step is to collect as many relevant ideas from participants and drive input from the entire group.

4. Prioritize

The goal of the brainstorming step is to create a pool of ideas; conversely, the point of the prioritization step is to identify the themes most important to the group and each individual. Using a variety of methods from dot-voting to secret balloting, we create “buckets” in which to place each idea.  For example, we might have buckets for membership retention, engagement, recruitment, communication, etc.

5. Build Consensus

After identifying the general themes, we move to identify the metrics most important to each individual.  Then we rank the ideas based on group-wide priorities.  By identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each visualization, the group can rate each potential metric on the perceived benefit (whether that be time-savings to staff, value to members, resources required, time to create, or impact of the organization’s objectives).

6. Close

Finally, we close our BI meeting by reviewing the end deliverable and assigning action items to individuals necessary to move to the next step in the process:  collecting the data necessary to visualize metrics.

By participating in the BI requirements meeting, associations can benefit from not only narrowing the scope of the initiative, but also gaining buy-in from the potential users of the end product.  This buy-in is as important to the success of the total project as identifying the needs!

For more information on this key topic, see our previous blog posts Building your Association Business Intelligence Team, Why Does Visual Data Discovery Matter for Associations?, and  The Best Way to Facilitate a Business Intelligence Roadmap Session.