A Business Analyst View: Transforming Data Inventory into Rich Visuals
Like most Business Analysts that work as Data & Analytics consultants, my background and experience are quite diverse.
I had my first real experience with analyzing data when I first joined the Army. I was deployed in 2005 conducting Convoy Security operations across Iraq. Through proper data analysis we were able to predict the likelihood of enemy activity on our routes. This gave our convoys the best opportunities to avoid potential attacks. Now, I realize that this is an extreme example, but the fact remains that quality data is an invaluable asset to any team, and the proper analysis of that data can be a literal lifesaver.
After completing my service, I put my skills to work as a civilian. One of the recent projects I worked on involved a regional healthcare payer organization that was in the process of modernizing their data systems and adopting a cloud-based data platform. To make the transition from their legacy system, the client had to ensure that all data assets across the entire enterprise, were inventoried to ensure optimal data integrity. The client also lacked a means for tracking changes to those assets in real time. So, our challenge was how to help the client manage and track the enormous scale of customer data they possessed.
One of the best practices I learnt during my service and applied to my Business Analyst career was the importance of collaborative outreach and thorough communication with key stakeholders. Whether its communicating with local elders in Iraqi villages or executives at a fortune 500 organization, the outreach process is an essential element for accomplishing the mission.
For our healthcare payer client, appropriate outreach with their executive leadership brought about a few positive outcomes:
- An open line of communication with Lead Analysts
- Direct knowledge of how data interacts throughout the enterprise
- Holistic understanding of the organization’s goals
This information allowed us to parse customer segments into more manageable groups. Executing a proper outreach process facilitated questions and concerns in terms of their data assets. Not only did we gather their inventories, but we also increased our footprint when engaging the business in the inventory process.
Utilizing the Right Technology
During my career with the Army, I was fortunate to have worked with some of the best technologies available. Having access and the appropriate training with these technologies made my job easier and more importantly provided better outcomes.
As a Business Analyst my role is to guarantee project momentum while pushing forward the narrative of gathering assets. Initially, the business had to experience the pain of wading through comprehensive spreadsheets, these provided the foundation for our technical data inventory. While manual data collection and examination can be an onerous process, it clearly demonstrates the value of an automated solution. Incorporating data visualization to the inventory, not only helped acquire a single source of truth but also staged the data in a manner that provided quality data for actionable insights.
By utilizing PowerBI, we took all the inventory data and created a sophisticated dashboard that easily visualizes the assets by business groups. We customized and broke out the specific ways the business wanted to sort them. In this case, we looked at Tables, Schemas, Reports and Processes.
However, there were still infrastructure challenges that needed to be addressed. On one hand we had the complete, cleansed inventory for each business line and a means to visualize it. But, on the other hand, we still had no way of tracking any changes made to the data assets. Having this capability is vital to preserve the data’s quality moving forward. So, in a collaborative effort made possible by our established outreach, we selected Informatica as the appropriate asset management tool due to its detailed cataloging system.
This allowed for the download of a local file which could be directly imported into PowerBI for analysis. Because of this we were able to provide a visual representation of changes in near real time. These dashboards can now be utilized as not only an easily understandable representation of the data, but also the foundational data can be maintained and updated more easily and without the heavy manual intervention burden.
By conducting proper outreach with key stakeholders and selecting the appropriate technology for the project, the client’s data assets are inventoried, can be visualized, and tracked so data integrity remains intact. This enabled the business to effectively analyze their assets to ensure they were bringing over, fresh, mission critical data while transitioning to new architecture.
The skills I learnt during my military service have served me well now as a Business Analyst. Our group at Data Ideology have always fostered an environment that embraces diverse backgrounds in their employees. This allows us to approach a client’s data dilemmas from a unique perspective and deliver the appropriate data solution. If your company is slogging through manual processes or bogged down by spreadsheet after spreadsheet and looking for an automated and easily understandable solution to reduce the need for manual work. Contact us and let us help you with your data mission.