When I was a newbie in the process industry, about 20 years ago, I recall my manager telling me that whenever you have your project timeline ready remember to multiply the time by 3. That’s a rule of thumb and not exact science, yet it’s old wisdom that should probably not be neglected.
In the digital analytics industry, we see different types and scales of digital analytics implementation projects all the time. We also see the common pitfalls you might face when you do a complex digital analytics implementation.
At the end of the blog post, you’ll find a link to a pretty extensive survey you can go through that can help you in the planning phase.
#1 Define a Playbook – never underestimate the power of good planning.
The first thing you need to do, even before choosing the right solution is to define your business requirements for analytics. The same requirements should be used as the baseline for creating the solution reference design. Together, these define the playbook which will help you to plan your implementation project.
Critical planning phase questions for digital analytics implementation:
- Have you thoroughly listed the KPI’s and metrics needed to be reported?
- Have you made sure all the report templates can be done and have been planned?
- Have you really included all websites & apps in the solution design?
- Within mobile measurement, have you thought of all app versions and operating systems needed?
- Within video measurement, have you thought of all of the players you need to measure?
- Have you included all of your data integration requirements in the playbook?
- Have you thought of the third party tagging solutions?
- Have you requested the work estimations from your analytics consultancy agency?
The first mistake we see is when companies neglect to develop a playbook.
2# Make sure the critical people are involved in the planning phase.
The playbook requires attention from 5 parties:
- Client’s Business representatives making sure the business requirements are correct
- Client’s Project Manager ensuring the budget, time and internal resources are available
- Analytics implementation specialist bringing it all together
- Vendor supporting in the implementation process
- Integration partner inserting and applying the code on the websites and apps
The second mistake we see when creating a playbook is not involving all the required people.
#3 Collaboration around implementation.
Collaboration is key to any analytics implementation project. If the insertion of the code is executed poorly then the time to implementation can escalate. No single person is to blame, yet there are few things to consider prior to starting the implementation phase.
- Can my digital analytics specialist or consultant produce production ready code? This is the ideal situation!
- Does my integration partner have experience in analytics implementation?
- Does my integration partner have experience with the chosen analytics solution?
- Do we have a proper ticketing & quality assurance process in the digital analytics implementation?
The third mistake is by not collaborating effectively you end up iterating code over and over to get production ready. That results in you paying more money for the implementation as well as wasting a lot of time.
#4 Your company just published a new website and app, let’s include that into the project.
Do you want to make sure your project remains on agreed time and budget? Then don’t add new requirements as you go. If your playbook is well developed you shouldn’t need to change anything. If however you get half way through your implementation process then the best advice is to create a new solution playbook for Phase II implementation. By doing this, you will make sure your project has a chance to meet the goals you set. You’ll also have a good track record inside your company and the opportunity to request more budget for your revised requirements.
This tends to happen nearly as frequently as the other 3 digital analytics implementation pitfalls. In many cases, the client’s stakeholders don’t have enough information when they start out on the project, or they have had other projects and haven’t put enough effort on requirement definition. It could also be a case where a company is publishing new digital properties.
Do it all in phases and you’ll be able to break your work into manageable sprints rather than taking too much on.
#5 Training and engaging your team at the end of the project
Sometimes we see it’s difficult to close the digital analytics project and start using the implemented solution.
After everything is implemented, tested and reporting is finalised, there are still the last two steps of the project to do. Training & engaging your team is as important as the first planning phase. Make sure your key personnel are trained to use at minimum the reporting interface to fetch the most important KPI’s they need.
Once your key stakeholders are trained have a weekly reporting meeting (which might be only 15 minutes long) to ensure everyone is getting what they need.
The final project management challenge is the in-house resourcing. You may find that it is very difficult to get your key stakeholders trained to a level where they can start using the analytics solution.
#6 Bonus implementation survey
We have designed a survey which guide you through the questions asked in this blog post. Going through the survey takes time but it is worth the effort if you’re planning an implementation project. We are of course happy to assist you with your analytics implementation planning and will be in touch if you add your business details to the survey.