Leading organizations realize how critical it is to prioritize data-informed decision-making. When quality data work drives an organization, it becomes possible to gain a competitive advantage, drive better business outcomes, and improve customer experiences. Data initiatives can involve various roles, including data visualization experts who design intuitive graphics and data engineers who build seamless data pipelines. To make these projects successful, there is another incredibly critical role that businesses cannot overlook—the data analysts.
What do data analysts do?
- Translate business goals into technical requirements
- Shepherd data initiatives
- Uncover meaning from raw data
- Bring organizations to a modern decision-making approach
Programmatic Data Analysis
Data analysts take raw data and derive meaning using analytical programming languages, databases, and visualization tools. They work closely with business owners to understand the current environment and gain valuable insights from existing data. Once analysts understand what the business owners want to research, they process data to identify trends. They base the initial analysis on suspected relationships then expand on their discoveries.
To conduct this research, data analysts use a core set of skills to apply to a wide variety of statistical computing and programming languages, relational and document databases, and COTS and open-source visualization tools to deliver their insights. This versatility allows the analysts to integrate with their customer’s teams and systems seamlessly. Their solution is custom-tailored to the platforms that the customer is already using.
Success Story: Real-Time Data Analysis Allows Federal Officials to Make Timely, Data-Driven Decisions
Excella conducted a fast-paced analysis of millions of federal agency documents to inform daily decisions made by senior executive service officials. The data analysts first implemented a Mongo DB document database ingesting documents from multiple disparate systems. Then they wrote custom queries collecting metrics about multiple years of case files to produce critical reports.
This approach resulted in a substantially faster turnaround due to the performant database and a shift toward pattern identification. Managers made decisions based on data, which hadn’t been a possibility before the project.
Success Story: Data Visualization Allows for Internal Operating Efficiency
Data analysis isn’t solely reserved for external KPIs—businesses can leverage data analysis to make sense of disparate internal workstreams. Excella took data from over a dozen different internal Agile software projects and distilled them down to a readable and actionable data visualization dashboard for a private sector client.
New-found internal working data provides a platform for all future work to be programmatically included in workstream monitoring. Teams can now identify roadblocks and avoid pitfalls. Ultimately, the dashboard decreases time spent on manual reporting and data entry, freeing teams to make decisions faster. The best part of this effort? It all occurred in 30 days.
Data analysts play a critical role in capturing and utilizing user behavior on websites. Whether a website is a public-facing government site or an e-commerce site, analyzing the data and delivering the right set of indicators to decision-makers is much more challenging. Data analysts answer that challenge by working with stakeholders before analyzing begins so the team can develop the right questions the captured data can answer. Then they conduct complicated analysis of web traffic, ensuring that the necessary data is being collected and meets quality requirements. They iteratively refine their analyses by narrowing stakeholder questions, resulting in delivering insights that are most impactful to the mission.
Success Story: Website Data Leads to Increased Revenue and More Targeted Marketing
Excella partnered with a global hospitality chain to evaluate different aspects of their sales, careers, pricing and marketing web traffic. Data analysts combined enormous data sets, traced invalid data to the source, captured page traffic trends, and conducted new feature impact analysis. These analyses resulted in decisions that led to increased revenue, more targeting marketing, and more user-focused functionality across numerous websites and mobile applications. By replicating this process, Excella successfully implemented digital analytics work multiple times across the organization.
Agile Data and Data Ops
Organizations that haven’t undergone data modernization often experience delays in accessing the data they need. Our Agile for data approach helps establish faster access to data and prioritizes the data most critical to decision-making.
Data analysts successfully implement Agile data by:
- Facilitating feature planning
- Determining how to get value out of the smallest data sets
- Building a backlog of work that will logically expand that data in ways that always deliver more meaningful results
These efforts help bring data from development to production, often through the support of an automated data pipeline. Data analysts make pipelines successful by managing deployment timing, validating releases, and establishing mechanisms for regular communication with the user community.
Success Story: Analysts Establish a Process for Data
Excella data analysts work hand-in-hand with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to bring Agile processes to their Federal Staffing Center data programs. Data analysts advocated for the establishment of automated deployments and 2-week sprints. They facilitated feature planning, shepherded technical stories, coached product owners, and tested for data accuracy. Our analysts’ expertise resulted in an established process for iteratively building data stores, reports, and APIs. This transformation has streamlined access to federal recruitment, application, hiring, onboarding, and employee performance data. OPM can now access their data that they previously couldn’t access. Additionally, they now have access across different workstreams.
Organizations have many systems with specific purposes and frequently use a variety of tools and technologies to achieve their goals. The key to unlocking the power of data from those systems is data management—ensuring that critical metadata and metrics are defined the same way for each system and that systems adhere to those definitions. Strong data management results in data resources that are reliable, accurate, and secure. It also standardizes the data from multiple sources to be used more effectively. Data analysts achieve these goals by establishing a centralized data management system, data standards and operationalizing processes to enforce standards and evaluate their success continuously.
Success Story: A Strategic Roadmap Leads to Modern Data Governance
Data analysts are using data management expertise to mature and modernize the agency’s data governance program at a federal agency. The analysts are performing baseline assessments and working with stakeholders to understand their most critical needs. This allows for effective prioritization of the work that will have the highest impact on data governance. They crafted a strategic roadmap to support these work efforts, focusing on formalized, repeatable, and programmatic governance practices. Currently, Excella data analysts are in the midst of launching a centralized data catalog solution and a data stewardship program. The data analysts have also succeeded in refining the agency’s processes for ingesting and archiving data.
Data Project Support
Data Analysts fill critical gaps that make all data projects successful. They translate business requirements into technical requirements by analyzing what data is needed and transforming it to meet the desired outcome. Working alongside data engineers, data scientists, and data visualization experts, data analysts support a broad range of data initiatives by validating data, meeting requirements, and working with business owners to refine their goals for the product.
Success Story: Coaching and Planning Opens Access to New Data and A More Sound Product
Our data analysts partner with federal product owners at OPM as experienced technologists for teams tasked with building data solutions. Our data analysts coach product owners, propose data architectures, manage story backlogs, build data visualizations, educate data consumers, develop code for ETL, and analyze data sets to find patterns in federal hiring practices. These efforts enabled federal agencies across the government to improve the time it takes to hire a federal employee. They can now analyze the demographics of hiring practices and quickly access information about jobs and applications. Adding these skills to data scrum teams resulted in higher efficiency, a more technically sound product, and access to previously unreachable data.
Who needs data analysts?
The short answer: everyone! There is a constant need to take the mountains of ever-changing data and turn it into insights. Our data analysts are skilled across the spectrum of analysis roles and have the experience to deliver quickly.
Are You Data Literate? Learn about the importance of effective data literacy to ensure that your organization is making the most of its data.