Information Gathering is an Important First Step in Any Data Analytics Project

Gathering information before starting a large data analytics project is crucial for its success, and is one of five things that are important to know beforehand, according to Innovative Solutions Partner co-founder Mustansir Saifuddin, who has shepherded a multitude of such projects over the past two decades. 

There are several things to consider in this information-gathering phase, including assessing the tools and platforms currently in use, what tools and platforms will be used in the future, and who the key players are for the project.

Tools and platforms: Current and future states

Before starting the project, it’s crucial to understand the tools and platforms that are currently being used as well as those available for integration into the project. This includes understanding their capabilities, limitations and potential for integration with other tools and platforms. Having a base understanding of what is in use will help the team to select the right tools for the project – ones that are compatible with existing infrastructure and that will do what the organization needs into the future. 

Whatever the current landscape, it’s essential as a first step, Saifuddin says, to thoroughly understand that landscape. 

In addition, be sure to understand what tools and platforms will be used going forward. This includes: 

  • Plans for the data warehouse, ie. SAP Datasphere, BW/4HANA, Azure SQL Datawarehouse, etc.
  • Tools for visualization, ie SAP Analytics Cloud, PowerBI, etc.
  • Anything else that will be in the mix, such as security issues that must be addressed.

Will it be a multi-platform approach?

Many organizations are moving to a multi-platform approach for their data, and for good reason, says Saifuddin. 

According to a report by Forrester, companies that use a multi-platform approach to data analytics are better able to handle complex data environments and scale their analytics capabilities. 

 When considering multi-platform solutions or moving to the cloud for their data warehouses, companies using SAP or any other platforms should keep the following in mind:

  • SAP offers various solutions for data analytics that can be integrated with other platforms and tools to create a multi-platform solution that meets specific business needs. SAP Datasphere, the next generation of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, offers a unified experience for data integration between both SAP and non-SAP systems. 
  • Large organizations today use 367 software apps and systems on average to manage their various workflows, according to a recent Forrester survey of more than 1,000 key decision-makers.  All of this points to a need to assess those apps, systems and tools – including data silos and multiple sources of truth – so that the team can ensure that whatever future solution is used has a less fractured approach. 

Are there any other factors outside of IT? 

In this information-gathering phase of the project, it’s important to ask what else is going on in the company that may affect the project. For example: 

  • Is there any growth or constriction in personnel? 
  • Are there any infrastructure changes planned? 
  • Is the business model changing or expanding in any way? 
  • Are any leadership changes in the works?

Obviously, you cannot predict the future – there will be factors outside of the project team’s control and potentially even out of the company’s control. But it’s important to take note of what IS known. 

Beyond information gathering

Once you’ve assessed current and future tools and platforms, as well as gaining knowledge about anything happening in the company as a whole, it’s time to move on to the other four things to know.

You can read about those other “things to know” here in a previous article published earlier. 

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Mariyah Saifuddin