People, Process, and Technology?

November 8, 2010

It has been a little while since I wrote my last blog post and I thought it this was an appropriate topic to blog about. Some of you might recall Eric Peterson has done several presentations on this topic. This topic has also recently been mentioned on Twiiter. As I have mentioned from the beginning I am going to write about I am going to write about my personal experiences and this topic was a good topic to write about as I have started my new position. I am going to write about my experience with each of these with my various companies that I have worked. I am going to start with technology, then people, and finally process.

Technology
This is the one area that I have been very lucky to have the companies that I worked for buy into, for the most part. All of the companies that I have worked for have selected top tier tools, which could be for web analytics, surveys, testing, email marketing, etc. Some of the tools that my companies have selected over the years and that I have used are: CoreMetrics, Omniture (SiteCatalyst, Discover, Test and Target, Survey, Genesis, Data Warehouse), Google Analytics, comScore, and Nielson), and a couple of business intelligence tools (Oracle, Business Objects, and Teradata). Though I have been fortunate to use a variety of tools throughout the years, not all of my previous companies have wanted to invest in some of these tools. The reasons why they did not want to invest in some of these tools came down to the companies did not think they could get a good ROI from the tools and they were not ready to invest in the tools (either not in the culture or not enough people). When I say invest I am even referring to the free tools and the companies did not have the people in place to take on the new tools. Though I started thinking about these tools and as an analyst has our relaying on some of these tools too much actually make our analysis more difficult?

People
Of the three, this one has been the most challenging with some of the companies that I have worked. I have worked in departments that range anywhere from 2 people to 50 people where I have worked on multiple tools to just one tool. The departments that I have worked in that were 2 to 3 people where I was able to work on multiple tools was a great learning experience, especially earlier in my career, though with all of the tools that companies can use today I do not know how realistic this is today. When I have mentioned adding some new tools, besides not understanding the new tool, it also came down to not having enough time for someone to work with the new tool. In other words, there were not enough people in the department to spend time with the tool. Besides not thinking they could get a ROI from the tool, the companies also did not think they could get a good ROI from adding new people to the department, even if I suggested using a free tool to show the company how the tool can help the company make better decisions to increase the conversion. With all of the different tools that companies can use, should they hire at least one person for each of the tools that they company uses?

Process
Of the three, the process is the one that I have continuously worked on throughout my career and it is the hardest one to achieve. With so many different tools, a good process needs to be set to either implement the different tools, add a new item to be tracked, or new tests to be run. A process needs to be set up for all of the tools that you have, but these are just some examples of the different processes that need to be set up. Though it does not require any monetary investment it does require a time investment and buy off from your internal clients to follow the process that you have set up. This can be challenging as people have different ideas about which process might work and the different departments might have different requirements, so getting buy off from the different departments can be challenging. Another challenge for creating a process is when two requests that come in have the same priority level, how do you determine which project to work on first? There are a few different ways you can determine which project to work on first. You can look at the potential revenue for each of the projects and whichever project has the most potential revenue is the project that gets the top priority. You can also look at the time frame for each of the projects and whichever project has the earlier time frame could get the top priority. But what if both or more requests that came in have the same revenue potential and both have the same time frame then what do you do? This is where setting up a group from different departments can be useful to talk through the different requests to help set the prioritization for the different requests. Even though the top requests have the same revenue potential and due date having a group of people from different departments discuss the different requests can be very beneficial in deciding the prioritization of the projects. When I have been in a department of two, the process was easier as there were fewer people that I had to get approval from for prioritization of the projects than when I was in larger departments. For larger departments a good process is a must to make sure everyone is on the same page with the prioritization.

Conclusion
Though I think that all three of very important, I think developing a good process is the most important of the three. Convincing the companies to invest in new tools and to invest in the people to manage and use those tools for analysis can be difficult, but if you have a good process for analysis and prioritization of the different projects and requests you can show the company what kind of ROI that can be achieved from the new tool and people to manage the new tool.

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