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The power to tame your processes

How thoughtful work methodologies can achieve data management goals faster

Handling data is complicated. Whether it’s raw number collection or more sophisticated analytics, tracking and processing data can take up a lot of time and resources. If not done right, it can also lead to potentially damaging errors and project failures. Collecting data requires thoughtful planning and proper systems that serve your purposes. Unfortunately, outdated ways of working and old tech are holding many companies back. 

To maintain—and gain—a competitive edge, you should streamline the ways you're collecting and using data. You should also empower your teams to generate faster insights, make better decisions and encourage creative problem solving and collaboration.

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Data intelligence is the game changer

Harnessing data strategically can give a clearer snapshot into customer behavior, indicate how programs and projects are performing and much more. It gives you crucial business information that can help you outpace the competition and better manage risks. Companies that embrace and manage big data can deliver better service to their customers and more effectively meet their goals. 

So, how do you put data to work in a way that streamlines processes and increases the speed to insight? By adopting data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI). 

AI can help you analyze and harvest vast amounts of data efficiently and reliably. It can also arrange the outputs clearly so you can get insights to inform your strategies around initiatives, such as customer engagement. You can also use it for internal-facing purposes, like understanding investment allocations and calculating returns.  

Data intelligence is key to improving your financial forecasting, customer experiences and overall business performance.

Learn to love agile

One way to help increase your team’s data capabilities is to take an agile approach to project management and software development that’s both iterative and transparent. This involves open communication about workloads, daily or weekly check-ins to talk about what you and your co-workers are doing and opportunities for collaboration. 

For example: If a data science team is working together and seeing similar roadblocks to progress, constant communication gives them the chance to make real change. They could brainstorm a solution, like automating a process.

Adopting agile methodology is important because it can move the needle on team performance and improve project management by breaking down silos between workstreams. 

Another benefit of agile is setting time-based, weekly or monthly “sprints” to map out work ahead in advance, so projects and time are accounted for correctly. Using Kanban boards, or other workflow visualization tools, you can see what’s planned, what’s in progress and what’s finished. This helps promote transparency from top to bottom and keeps everyone aware of a project’s status. 

Agile forces teams to move faster and celebrate small but consistent wins, rather than one big one at a project’s end. Ever notice that most software companies now release incremental, continuous updates rather than one big update? That’s the agile methodology at work.

By accomplishing smaller and more achievable goals, the project keeps moving forward. The key is having a disciplined project management process that encourages inspection and adaptation, teamwork-first philosophy and self-organization and accountability.

Level up by adopting design thinking 

Design thinking is a 360-degree point-of-view process that challenges teams to understand users, assumptions, reconsider problems and test innovative solutions. It’s a way to design products that focuses on users and encourages improvement through testing and applying user feedback. 

Design thinking is not limited to product design and can be used to problem-solve, collaborate and make decisions. So whether your company makes a product or provides a service, design thinking can improve your processes and end results. 

Think about your end-user, no matter what team you’re on. Who’s on the receiving end of what you produce? Are they within your company or are they an external customer? Are you designing products or services specifically for their success? Try to see problems—and solutions—from their perspective. 

For example:  Does your team produce reports that other workstreams use to inform decisions? Ask those workstream members about their user experience. 

How do they interact with your report? What does that data sorting look like from their perspective? Does your report give that team the view of the data they need in the format they want? Conduct a survey. Use their inputs to inform better design and put your data wrangling and visualization skills to work. Or learn how to use new tech, like automation, that can improve their experience. 

Budget, time and expense reports can easily be automated and—through dashboards or other visualizations—can show project leaders what they need at a glance. Goodbye tedious spreadsheets. Hello thoughtfully designed, data-driven insights.

The design thinking process includes five steps:

  • Empathize Understand what you’re trying to solve for, typically via research. Empathy allows you to set aside assumptions and gain insight into user needs.

  • Define Analyze observations and define core problems. 

  • Ideate Generate problem statements. Some teams create personas that represent the end-users they’re trying to please.

  • Prototype Identify the most viable solution in this experimental phase. Produce inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product or features you’re creating to investigate ideas.

  • Test Consider new problems from all angles and stress test—and then test again.

Working within this framework keeps the ever-evolving point of view of your end-user in mind. It takes undefined or unknown problems and refocuses them. It makes you ask, “how would a person actually use this?”

Adopting a design thinking approach can deliver significant business impact. If you can get your team’s buy-in—and they can all be collaborative and intuitive about their process—you can see holistic changes, from top to bottom. 

Upskilling is the change agent

Once you’ve become an agile and design-thinking operation, you can look at data from multiple perspectives. You can find the potential hidden gems that could give your company a leg up. Upskilling—teaching your team how to adopt new processes, and using new tech to improve how it works—could be critical for actual, trackable change. 

Let’s say your team is armed with leading practices that could save time and drive efficiencies. Now it’s time to empower them to be just as strong as their processes. It’s all about the right tools and training.

Not everyone can turn into a data scientist overnight. But what you can do is offer access to tools that help people leverage their existing skills and integrate data technologies into the course of their everyday work. 

You can encourage adoption by showcasing new ways to examine data and automate the tedious parts of their day via robotic process automation (RPA). Also use the power of AI to analyze data to see the bigger picture.

The need for upskilling, reskilling and automation technology has never been greater—and 75% of CEOs believe this shift toward automation will continue. But to upskill in ways that apply to the business, you need an approach that offers authentic, hands-on learning that sticks and scales.

To evolve to meet today’s challenges, upskilling and reskilling are critical for company health and growth. 

Adaptability is key 

The pandemic taught us that companies should be able to adapt. Performance enablement is crucial. A modern workforce needs to be agile and flexible. But enablement isn’t one-size-fits-all. Because AI drives these systems, performance is analyzed. It learns what skills employees are excelling in and monitors KPIs and personal growth goals. Better data wrangling and consumption is a means to level up a company with a relatively easy buy-in model. 

A company that can root its processes in agile and design thinking could see significant benefits. Collaboration is key for team success. Those who can handle their workloads better, understand new processes, move through their work faster thanks to small goal setting, and better solve customer problems, tend to be the ones who win. 

Invest in Tomorrow 

Stay ahead of the curve with PwC ProEdge, the revolutionary way to upskill your people and prepare your organization for tomorrow. This unique platform allows you to pinpoint critical skill gaps and effectively help close them with automatically generated personalized learning pathways. Leading curated content, coursework and hands-on learning empower your workforce to make an immediate impact  through citizen-led innovation. Access to digital tools enables solution-building that scales across teams. This is how ProEdge helps your people to perform at their highest level—giving them the power to help transform your entire organization.

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