3 Keys to Incorporating Data Analytics into Your District’s RoutinePosted on May 23, 2017, 8:33:50 AM
Often in my work with school districts, I’m asked about how to create a habit of incorporating data analytics into a regular routine. I hear a variety of challenges when discussing this idea with districts, but the one that comes up most often is a lack of time. Most of us work in environments where we regularly have more work to get done than we have time in the day. Instinctively we continually make choices on what to prioritize and work on – often focusing on tasks that add the most value relative to the effort required. Unfortunately for some, incorporating the use of data and analytics within tasks gets set aside.
Working with hundreds of school districts across the country, I’ve found there are three keys to successfully incorporating data and analytics into a routine - and receive a huge return on your efforts.
People – Get the right people involved at the right time, and it starts at the top!
Process – Identify key areas within your existing processes and business cycle where access to data and data-based insights would be valuable, and create roles and guidelines on how data and analytics will be accessed, compiled, reviewed, interpreted and communicated.
Tools – Invest in tools and technology that allow the right people to easily access useable data and translate it into meaningful analytics that drive insights.
People – Here are some actionable steps you can take regarding the People involved:
- Commit as a leadership team to be an informed district.
- Assign roles and areas of responsibility – then set expectations.
- Give and get feedback along the way and publicly recognize exceptional performers.
- Celebrate your success when the use of data and analytics plays a big part in a successful project such as contract negotiations, budget preparation, program funding or a successfully passed referendum.
If people don’t understand the importance or believe in the value of data and data-based decision making, your district will struggle to integrate new processes into routines.
Process – Three practical ways districts are using a process to integrate data into their routines:
Analytic of the Month
Incorporating analytics more frequently into your routine will keep your knowledge of the data and skills using your tools fresh. I have seen districts find success by sharing an “analytic of the month” internally which they discuss at scheduled meetings or focus groups. Those who adopt this practice of sharing data analytics on a more regular basis discover it becomes a pillar for productive dialogue and conversation.
Monthly Deep Dives
Set aside at least one time a month to analyze the data for your district. Block off an appointment on your calendar and don’t budge. Use historical trends to analyze where you have been, benchmarking to decide where you want to go, and projections to see how those decisions will impact your district.
Many districts incorporate analytics on a larger scale by publishing content to their websites and including them in board and/or community presentations. This often helps effectively “tell your district’s story” to the community and promotes transparency.
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Tools – The final key is having the right tools to help you be successful. Technology is constantly changing and evolving, if you are doing things the way you have always been doing them, make sure you are open to new ideas and systems that could enhance or improve your current processes. If you’re continually pulling data manually from multiple forms across various sites in the public domain, and/or calling your peers every few weeks asking for another copy of another form, there are tools available such as Forecast5 Analytics’ suite of software that can put statewide data at your fingertips or allow you to access your own internal data through easy-to-use interfaces.
School districts that can bring together the people, processes and tools, are driving the decisions that in turn are driving them toward meeting and exceeding their goals.
Tony Jerisha is the Client Services Director for Forecast5 Analytics, Inc. where he is responsible for providing clients the support, training, and product experiences they need to be successful. Prior to joining Forecast5 in 2013, Tony spent 10 years with CCH (a Wolters Kluwer business) in various leadership positions including National Retention Manager where he oversaw client relationships across the U.S. and helped the organization bring multiple technology innovations to the tax and legal markets. Tony has received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of St. Francis and his Illinois CPA certification.