If your Digital Analytics Dream Team provides lots of dashboards to the organization does this mean that you are providing a high quality analytics product? Perhaps, but not necessarily. This is like saying that a Super Size meal is better than a 4 oz filet mignon. Quantity doesn't mean quality.

If the CMO gets a great dashboard weekly that clearly indicates the ROI from all digital marketing channels, does this mean that you’ve satisfied your most important stakeholder? Maybe, but is this coming at the expense of not getting dashboards to the marketers who are running campaigns?

Making decisions on program priorities based on budget and resources is a fact of life…and the choices you make when managing a Digital Analytics Center of Excellence may not be clear cut.

How can you navigate these waters?

Management by Chaos

As an analytics director, you think the digital analytics team’s mission is to provide insights, enable better decision making and find gems in the data. Are your managers in alignment with this mission? Or is their focus on more tactical issues, such as ensuring that the data is reliable and getting ad hoc reports produced when asked on a moment’s notice?

I don’t know of any analytics program that doesn’t have to manage these seemingly dueling sets of priorities.However, I see programs that tend to drift without a clear direction…until the CMO calls for a “set of dashboards.” When this happens, there is a fire drill to develop the dashboards. After the dust settles and there’s time to think about what’s in the dashboards, there is often a bit of head scratching trying to figure out why a specific data point or metric was put in.

If you've had enough of management by chaos, take an approach that puts you in control of your program and put together your Analytics Roadmap to Excellence.

Focus Analytics on Agreed Upon Goals

But first do some homework. Take the time to consult and negotiate with senior leadership on what they are looking for from analytics. They will likely say something like "we want actionable data" or "we want to use the data to make decisions that impact our bottom line.”

It’s obvious, on one hand, but on the other hand, I see many analytics programs that are not focused on this business goal. They are focused on the operations as an end unto many reports are produced and sent, how many sites are tagged, how many “drive by” requests can be responded to in a week …

If your program is in this place, then you have a disconnect between you and your management that needs to be addressed through the goal setting exercise. This can be a simple discussion or it may require a formalized approach that clearly defines goals and objectives of the organization. Your mission in this session is to come away with a direction that you can base your plan upon. It has to be specific and it has to be measurable so when you succeed, it is clear that you’ve accomplished what you set out to accomplish.

Now, once you’ve got a clearly defined goal, you can put the plan together.

Planning Your Roadmap

The Roadmap is your operational planning document that sets out what you’re going to do over the course of the next 12-18 months. You use this to plan initiatives, resources and budget. And perhaps more important still, you use it as your baseline for negotiating expectations and goals of the digital analytics program with management. I know analytics managers who established these plans years ago and continually refer to them to keep themselves, staff and management on track with the roll out of their digital analytics programs.

What should you put into the plan? Consider all the tasks and initiatives that you want to accomplish and are expected to accomplish in support of the goals that you have agreed to, such as:

Learning Opportunities


  • Defining your team’s mission, goals, tasks and functions
  • Defining program performance metrics


  • Project intake and evaluation
  • Rapid response for urgent, executive-level requests
  • End-to-end process for developing reports, metrics and dashboards
  • Data collection standards for web, mobile and social media


  • SLAs or understanding with support and stakeholder groups, such as IT, Marketing, BI, Product Management
  • Staff/contractor/consulting hiring schedule

Reporting and Analysis

  • Metrics development
  • Dashboard development for stakeholder groups
  • Prioritization of specific deep dive analyses
  • Exploration of advanced analytics, such as multi-channel attribution, segmentation, A/B and Multivariate Testing, and predictive modeling

Training and Education

  • Segment stakeholders into data consumer and power user groups
  • Plan and deliver levels of training to accommodate interpretation of dashboards and metrics, as well as “hands on” education for power users
  • Establish user communities to encourage cooperation, shared wisdom

Solutions and Infrastructure

  • Tool selection and implementation
  • Scheduled quality assurance and maintenance

The Roadmap can be produced in MS Project or Excel -- any format that allows you to go from high level milestones into more granular tasks that can be assigned and tracked by you and your team. Once started, the Roadmap will help you, your management and team stay on the same page. The Roadmap will not end your days of dealing with “11:59” requests, but it will keep you on track to accomplish your long term vision.

Title image courtesy of Pressmaster (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Want to read more of Phil's thoughts on analytics? See his How to Untangle the Data Deluge