Every project regardless of internal or external involves stakeholders. Stakeholders can be said as the customers or person concerning something. In case of an analytical function, stakeholders can be various teams or departments in an organization responsible for different business functions such as acquisitions (responsible for increasing customer base), operations (coordinating and controlling services), etc. All these stakeholders directly or indirectly work for raising the performance of the organization on parameters like revenue, customer satisfaction, etc. Analytical function purpose is to bridge stakeholders with the insights from the data to better shape their strategies and decisions for higher success. To enable mentioned data-driven decisions, analytics function should be immersed in various business functions as also mentioned in an excerpt from a white paper “In order for a business to succeed with its business intelligence projects, stakeholder engagement from start to finish is key. By engaging in continuous communication with a variety of staff at different levels, you can help ensure the project lives up to every stakeholder’s requirement.” (Webb, 2017). Clever strategies need to be in place for ensuring such continuous stakeholders’ involvement. These strategies are derived majorly around the understanding of various stakeholders’ parameters to retain sustainable involvement. Describing below are few such strategies that can be implemented by various functions including analytics for better stakeholder commitment.
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Analyzing and Prioritizing key stakeholders: On a general day at the office when we face a large pile of work, we end up prioritizing it based on the severity and priority attached to it. Similar is the case for stakeholders. There could be numerous stakeholders in a company. We need to analyze stakeholders based on the influence, the power they hold and interest or believe they have in analytical function. As mentioned in an article “Stakeholder analysis is a technique of systematically gathering and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information to determine whose interests should be taken into account throughout the project. It identifies the interests, expectations, and influence of the stakeholders and relates it to the purpose of the project. It also helps identify stakeholder relationships that can be leveraged to build coalitions and potential partnerships” (The Field Grade Leader, 2019). Such an analysis, aids in identifying most influential and interested stakeholders which should be given priority over the less enthusiastic ones. This brings better chances to implement analytics function for decision-making and setting out the examples to other business functions on the relevance of analytics as people function. Again, this will strengthen the analytics leading to serious urge in various departments to experiment and immerse analytics for decision making with trust and for longer durations.
Aligning with stakeholders’ objectives: After identifying the important stakeholders, analytics functions should try to set up opportunities for directly engaging with them. In-person and face to face communication strategies can prove to be much more effective than discussions over the emails. This gives the chance to showcase the traits such as confidence, accountability, etc. leading to a better impression and understanding of analytics functions for stakeholders. Such communication gives a better understanding of what stakeholders are looking for. Correctly understanding their key performance indicator provides better analytics which eventually will convert to quality directions to stakeholders’ decisions, ensuring long term commitment.
Speaking Stakeholders language: There is a high possibility that tone, or language spoken by stakeholders is highly influenced by business and finance terminology which may sound out of sync for analytics function. Proper translator channels should be established to bridge the gap. Also, Analytical functions should be cautious in taking their finding or results to stakeholders. Many times, results are decorated with complex mathematical calculations and procedures that took place in reaching a numerical finding. While the stakeholders are expecting a solution to the problem and more probably the causation behind it. Let’s take an example of a business case where customers are not renewing their memberships. After slicing and dicing the data, analytics functions comes with a number 103, which stands for the average number of days before which non-renewing customers stopped shopping. While presenting this information to stakeholder it should be transformed. Analytics function should be initiating communications with a statement like they can provide the list of customers that have a high chance of not renewing their membership in the coming months. Then the relevance to 103 days can be presented to support the claim. This will help in targeting business goals from data leading to better stakeholder trust and commitment.
Motivation from Leaders: Top management and leaders plays a vital role in adopting analytics culture which draws the path to strong stakeholders’ commitment. Their elevation towards facts rather than opinions can act as an effort for subordinates to come with data backing up on the directions decided by them. A clear and precise requirement for change presented by the leaders can confirm continuous stakeholders’ commitment (Davenport and Harris, 2016). Elon Musk is a great example of such leadership. As can be seen from the presentation chaired by him on how fully automated tesla ROBOTAXI will make its way in 2020, in which he referred to data facts at regular intervals and how these led him to come up with innovative business proposal. This clearly confirms how leaders’ motivation for analytics function can lead to stakeholders’ involvement.
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Stakeholders are the experts on particular business areas and commitment for them plays an important role not only in analytics but in many other areas as well, to survive the highly competitive market. Obtaining commitment is not a day process, it’s a journey and I believe consistent effort along with the above-discussed strategies will play an important role in confirming stakeholders inclination for analytics function. As mentioned, “While not every departmental, divisional or regional objective will make it in the final project scope, its critical to stakeholder engagement in the final solution that their voices are heard and ideas considered.” ( Phocas: Business Intelligence Blog: 2016)
- Jonathan Webb (2017, December 27). How To Manage And Influence Internal Stakeholders. Retrieved from:https://www.forbes.com/sites/jwebb/2017/12/27/how-to-manage-and-influence-internal-stakeholders/#6981044c71a7
- The Field Grade Leader (2019, March 23), Managing Stakeholders: An Analytic Approach to Understanding Others. Retrieved from: https://fieldgradeleader.themilitaryleader.com/stakeholders/
- Thomas H Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris. (2006). Competing on Analysis: The New Science of Winning (1st ed.). Harvard Business School Press
- Phocas: Business Intelligence Blog (2016, November 22). [White Paper] Eight keys to achieving Business Intelligence success in 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.phocassoftware.com/business-intelligence-blog/eight-keys-to-achieving-business-intelligence-success-in-2017-white-paper
- The Not so Boring Man (2019, April 22). [YouTube Channel] Elon Musk’s Big Announcement: Tesla Will Make Uber Obsolete (Summary). Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GnH_C6NrOM
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