When fewer than 15% of data analytics projects fail to deliver on their stated objectives, something isn’t quite right. Tools for data integration, warehousing, and visualization have matured into business essentials. Best practices for data governance and integrity provide reliability and confidence. Machine learning and predictive analytics unlock business insights that offer strategic and competitive advantage.
But with all that, most data analytics projects underperform or fail. What’s going on here?
If the tools and techniques are solid and proven--and they are--it makes sense to look at who is using them and how they are used, and that’s where the biggest opportunities in modern data analytics are: in the readiness and willingness to adopt the new ways of working that data analytics makes possible.
The people who use these tools are smart, but intellect alone isn’t enough. These professionals need five essential elements in order to achieve the promise of data analytics. We summarize those elements (codified by the change management experts at Prosci) in the acronym ADKAR:
This is where everything begins. Do people know about the new capabilities, and if so, what do they know? How knowledgeable are your people about your analytics project’s objectives, timeline, and place in their workflow.
This is the positive counterpart to resistance. Based on what your people know about your analytics project, how much do they want the new way? How well do they understand and want the benefits, and do they perceive those benefits as worth the cost of change.
With awareness and desire for a new way established, what do people need to know in order to begin adopting new technologies and practices? What essential information do they need in order to operate effectively in their new workflow?
You might understand “ability” as the outcome of training. Have your people acquired the skills necessary to perform the tasks and analyses your analytics require? Are there impediments to them being able to operate in the ways you have trained them?
The final element your people need in order to make these new skills and abilities the norm. No matter how well people perform new skills in a training session, the environment around them has to support the new mode of working at every turn.
These are the five elements of ADKAR, and they are all essential to the success of important projects. When you are planning a new data analytics project, these are the contextual factors that dramatically improve your likelihood of success. When you have a project that is underperforming--and if you are certain that the tools work as you expect--this is a useful checklist for reviewing what your organization needs. ADKAR is more than just communications plans and training sessions. Done properly, this framework is your ticket to the 15% of successful data analytics projects.