Responsibility & Accountability for Online Analytics

Cardinal Path articleIn my previous posts, I have discussed the characteristics of data driven organizations, proposed a revised definition of web analytics and highlighted the three main skills of online analysts. Each post received a fair level of attention and I immensely appreciate the feedback.

However, I feel a piece of the puzzle is missing: if we want to define what is the discipline we’re in, and which skills are required, maybe we should look at what we do and what our responsibilities are.

The challenge

Analytics Challenge

It’s been said countless times: the number one factor in successful digital analytics is having a champion at the right level of the organization. Someone sponsoring and vouching for analytics, vouching for you.

Look at your Online Analytics Maturity assessment results; if the 1st dimension is one of the lowest, it is likely you are trying to work on things that are beyond your control and that you can’t really influence – you don’t have sufficient buy in. Especially if scope & objective are much higher than the team expertise and the analytical process methodology. Of course, if the 1st dimension is too high, the risk is management will have unrealistic expectations about what can be accomplished within your current capabilities. Which other dimensions are the highest? Lowest? This should point out to your strengths and weaknesses.

But the thing is this:

Unless you have clearly defined your role, the tasks that are yours, who will approve your deliverables (not necessarily your boss), who are your internal clients (commonly referred to as stakeholders) and subject matter experts you will rely on, you will never be able to prove your value and optimize your own job.

The solution

One of the first activities I recommend is to clearly define roles and responsibilities for all web analytics related activities. For this exercise, we’ll rely on a proven approach borrowed from project management and SixSigma concepts: a RACI matrix. A RACI matrix basically lists important tasks and deliverables, and who is Responsible (do), Accountable (sign off), Consulted (subject matter experts) and Informed (stakeholders).

Now, before you tell me a RASCI, CAIRO or DACI is better for whatever reason, I’ll tell you what I tell my students when they come up saying a SMARTER objectives are better than SMART ones: the thought process is more important than the acronym.

Your assignment, shall you accept it

You can start from the RACI example template and make sure it fits your specific organization.

Analytics RACI Matrix

First: take the lead

  • Identify activities
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Assign roles & responsibilities

Second: share your thoughts

  • Book individual meetings (no more than 30 minutes) with some stakeholders and present this matrix; make sure they agree in principle with the approach you are undertaking. Don’t seek perfection and don’t get too detailed – you want awareness and buy-in toward this process. Let them know when you’ll be following up with a revised version, no more than two weeks to a month later.
  • Let me know how it goes!

Third: improve and confirm

  • If you are both Responsible and Accountable, make sure it is really the case & you want to avoid that; maybe the task isn’t important enough to be listed and should be grouped with another one?
  • If you can’t identify who is Accountable, it might mean the task is not important, you shouldn’t be doing it: because nobody really cares!
  • Conversely, you should never have two people Accountable, but it is fine to have more than one person Responsible and many Informed and Consulted;
  • Don’t go crazy identifying everyone who is involved, use the column for Subject Matter Expert and indicate their role and responsibility

The result

Once you’ve done a couple of iterations on your RACI matrix you will have demonstrated leadership, gained buy in from management and stakeholders, and identified areas of opportunities for improving the value and maturity of your analytics practice.

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