Growing pains for analytics? Try analytic process management...


In a number of posts over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been discussing ideas for becoming an analytically driven insurance company. We’ve talked about information strategies, user enablement, collaboration, and now we’re going to talk about growing pains.

We recently met with an insurer for a discussion around their enterprise analytic strategy that evolved into a very constructive gripe session. This is a very analytically progressive organization, with a full (and fairly mature) arsenal of statistical tools, methods and resources. The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss the commonality of analytic themes across the different insurance lines to identify areas of analytic collaboration. Interestingly, there were few key initiatives relevant to the collective business units, but they began to discover that they had common process-related pain points.

The group agreed that the production of analytics was not the issue, but that several other organizational challenges were impeding their ability to leverage analytic insights, including:

  • Available infrastructure for analysis (example: speed at which analytic infrastructure is procured).
  • Ability to implement or operationalize analytic results (example: limitations of operational systems in accepting analytic output).
  • Transparency into the processes that make the these things happen (example: procurement processes take too long, or there is limited understanding of how the processes work or who the right contact people are).
  • Transparency into other initiatives, such as how decisions are made on prioritizing content for data warehouse projects.

Sound familiar? This may not seem like a “eureka!” moment, but each area had been battling these challenges individually and were not aware that the other groups were having the same issues. Organizations spend so much time and effort developing analytic competencies, but often forget to create organizational processes to effectively support these competencies. We see insurers starting to look more at business process management in their operational processes, so why aren’t they looking at analytic process management? If you’re really serious about analytics, analytics must be treated as an operational process, otherwise your ability to use your analytic insight to change your business will be limited.

Let’s get started: start identifying and documenting all the key processes that surround your analytics initiatives. Look at gaps and opportunities. Define accountabilities and responsibilities. Gain consensus. Go!


About Author

Rachel Alt-Simmons

Business Transformation Lead - Customer Intelligence Practice

Rachel Alt-Simmons is a business transformation practitioner whose expertise extends to operationalizing analytic capabilities vertically and horizontally through organizations. As the Business Transformation Lead for customer analytics at SAS Institute, she is responsible for redesign and optimization of operational analytic workflow, business process redesign, training/knowledge transfer, and change management strategies for customers. Prior to SAS, Rachel served as Assistant Vice President, Center of Excellence, Enterprise Business Intelligence & Analytics at Travelers, and as Director, BI & Analytics, Global Wealth Management at The Hartford. Rachel Alt-Simmons is a certified Project Management Professional, certified Agile Practitioner, Six Sigma Black Belt, certified Lean Master, and holds a post as adjunct professor of computer science at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. She received her master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.

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