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The Analytics Center of Excellence: Make better, faster, and more cost-effective decisions

October 15, 2021 Article 6 min read
Mark Richards Stephanie Henry
The requirements of regulatory bodies are changing rapidly, and our clients need a clear path to manage those changes, make accurate and efficient budgeting decisions, and optimize their supply chain. Our solution? The Analytics Center of Excellence.

Three analytics professionals working on their laptops late at night.Most organizations typically have access to an incredible wealth of data. However, they don’t always have a way to transform that data into insights that can lead to better, more informed decisions. Building a successful analytics program takes more than purchasing an analytics tool and pushing out flashy reports. Done right, a successful analytics program requires a solid foundation that supports the organization’s vision, and it needs the ability to scale and adapt to changing needs. Enter the Analytics Center of Excellence.

What’s an Analytics Center of Excellence?

Plante Moran’s four-step Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE) process combines a range of analytics best-practice methodologies, including those of major analytics software vendors, into a single pathway. We developed this program to help our clients manage the rapidly changing requirements of regulatory bodies, make better budgeting decisions, and optimize how they deliver products and services.

There are four phases along the ACE pathway, enabling leaders to develop a successful analytics strategy and successfully implement and iterate an analytics solution: Discover, Plan, Build, and Evolve.

Analytics Center of Excellence diagram showcasing the process for discover, plan, build, and evolve stages.

Leverage data to make smart decisions faster

Our analytics experts discuss how to build and evolve high-performing analytics teams focused on transforming your data into an intelligent resource to improve your organizations efficiency and give you a competitive advantage. Watch the video to learn more.

Phase 1: Discover

If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how can you figure out which path will get you to your desired destination? That question is at the heart of the Discovery phase.

If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how can you figure out which path will get you to your desired destination?

For any organization, it’s important to evaluate data maturity — current operations, including the primary practices and attitudes among staff, to have a solid grasp of where to focus efforts first.  Ask yourself:

  • What does a day in the life of the organization’s staff look like?
  • How do they use data?
  • How is data stored and maintained?
  • Do staff and decision makers trust the data they use, or do they question its accuracy and reliability?
  • Do staff have the skillsets needed to work with and interpret data?

The answers to these and similar questions provide a foundation of understanding that makes clear the current state, the future state, and any hurdles between them.

Phase 2: Plan

In the Plan phase, the information gleaned in the Discover phase is used to build an overall management structure for analytics, including responsibilities and accountabilities at micro and macro levels. Then, it’s time to look at the ACE’s day-to-day functioning and establish a roadmap for the program’s first three, six, and 12 months. Longer-range goals are broken down into manageable, measurable segments with milestones and decision points as required.

During this phase, any software tools already available should be considered. If you’re not already using software tools, the functionality needs identified during the Discovery phase should be used when comparing and evaluating potential technology to determine the tool (or tools) best suited to your organization’s needs.

Phase 3: Build

The Build phase is all about implementation — from data and reporting architecture to training initiatives and communication platforms. The ultimate goal of this phase is to establish reliable, repeatable best practices and to produce an initial set of analytics content and interactive dashboards. It’s also important to set up a communication/information site to provide people with important resources and transparency about the operations of the ACE.

Phase 4: Evolve

Analytics isn’t a “one-and-done” endeavor. It’s an ongoing, iterative process of evolution, as requirements change over time. The ACE team needs to stay in touch with its stakeholders and customers, seeking feedback and adjusting to deliver what’s needed. The ACE framework is itself designed to enable the team to make agile decisions and adopt, pivot, and reprioritize as necessary.

Analytics isn’t a “one-and-done” endeavor. It’s an ongoing, iterative process of evolution.

It’s important for ACE leadership to hold themselves and their team accountable. Stay connected with the team and the consumers of ACE-provided insights.

ACE can deliver value in a variety of use cases, for a variety of industries

The analytics needs of each organization and industry can vary greatly, but the ACE methodology can be applied across any industry, public or private. For example:

  • Manufacturing & Industry 4.0. ACE can be used to transform real-time data into a powerful single source of intelligence that allows for integration and optimization across your entire manufacturing value chain. From your manufacturing footprint and strategic sourcing to production volumes and labor costs, leveraging operational data allows for continuous improvement, agility, and sustained value creation.
  • Digital supply chain. ACE can help meet the challenge of knowing where to focus on supply chain efficiencies that lead to improved traceability, forecasting/predictability, inventory management, customer experience, and risk mitigation. The ability to predict or receive real-time notifications of supply chain disruptions have a huge impact on profits, resource planning, and end-user satisfaction.
  • Hospitals & health systems. Use ACE to improve your hospital’s reputation by advancing care delivery. Capturing and leveraging data from digital care tools can help hospitals successfully demonstrate value-based care and recovery. It can also be used to support the HAHS finance professional and the revenue cycle.
  • Financial services. ACE can help financial organizations make the shift from delivering general products and services to tailored services that meet regulatory and compliance mandates and allow for increased automation and agility. Insights into clients lead to better customer experiences and a more effective data strategy.
  • Construction. ACE can help harness your construction company’s data to drive growth, increase profitability and reduce risk. Whether you’re deciding to lease or purchase capital equipment, figuring out what wage will boost staff retention or weighing how best to improve overall profit margins, business analytics can help.
  • K-12 & higher education. ACE can be used to deploy data and reporting processes that replace manual, redundant work, freeing staff for more value-adding work. It can also be used to make sense of a wide range of student data more efficiently, providing education professionals with the insights needed to have a greater impact on students’ lives and strategic planning for high education.
  • Transportation. ACE is built to evolve and adapt, allowing transportation agencies to stay on top of changing data standards and reporting requirements while providing the insights needed to help organizations operate efficiently and maintain business resilience.
  • Public utilities. ACE can provide the processes and infrastructure to help public utilities derive actionable insights from their customer, facility, and fleet data. These insights can lead to smarter pricing strategies, better fleet management, and more effective business continuity planning.

An ACE accelerates the path to becoming a data-driven organization

Any organization can capitalize on these powerful tools to uncover insights that unlock efficiencies, cost savings, and new opportunities. With the ACE methodology, organizations can remove barriers to decision-making, encourage collaboration and communication, drive ROI, and achieve their analytics ambitions. Contact us to learn how you can build a broader base of knowledge and understanding of data and business analytics within your organization.

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