Data analytics is a key factor in the success of an effective state government strategy. Without the benefit of analytics, solution design can be less successful. Whether analytics are not collected or need improvement in terms of their reliability, enhancing the collection and use of data analytics is critical to state government strategic success. As discussed in our previous article regarding data sharing in state government, collaborating and sharing data can only strengthen state government strategic planning and data collection. Analytics that come from shared data offer an enhanced level of detail and insight that can be compared to moving from black and white movies to full color. This improved perspective provides the opportunity for insightful and proactive response to many issues.
Why Use Data Analytics to Shape State Government Solutions?
Analytics can correlate data across municipalities to provide a broader perspective on issues concerning state government; they can also identify root causes and trends at a more granular level, facilitating the development of strategic plans to tackle multiple aspects of critical issues. When analytics are used over the long term to create actionable reports, state agencies can use this data to predict future events and act to either get ahead of problems or prevent them altogether.
How Is a Successful Data Analytics Plan Put in Place?
The parameters for analytics must be established at the outset of the data analytics process. For example, goals and data collection need to align. Once a goal for the analytic information is determined, then data sets can be pulled together to create an in-depth analysis of the factors impacting a community or organization. Through data sharing initiatives at a state level, this information becomes more readily available from various state agencies to facilitate the development of the most actionable insights for states to utilize in active problem solving.
The Pew Charitable Trusts has provided an in-depth, downloadable report entitled “How States Use Data to Inform Decisions,” which details their findings on data analytics in government. Individual states and their implementation are detailed throughout the report. Specific challenges in staffing, data accessibility, data quality, and data sharing are addressed as well.
Analytics requires detailed organization of the data to be effective. Data collection is a common practice in government but on its own is not helpful in providing actionable insights. Analytic strategy developed among stakeholders at all levels of a project has to be part of the plan to ensure the insights are meaningful and can lead to actionable plans. Questions that should be considered include the following:
- What do the report recipients want to see in their analytic data?
- What are the most valuable insights for their needs?
- What are the actions they need to evaluate?
- How should that data be disseminated to them?
States should create discussion around these goals. Open communication regarding data analytics can facilitate a thorough understanding of the purpose of data analytics among all participants, bringing stakeholders on board more effectively at all levels of state government.
Once data analytics strategies and goals are established, a knowledge base should be established including how to source the data, how data should be organized, and which end goal relates to each part of the analytics process. Building a holistic view of the project goals ensures the correct data will be collected and the analytics process will serve the needs of all stakeholders.
Even when data collection and analysis are carefully planned and executed, changes both large and small can be necessary along the way. Just as a project plan or a solution to an existing issue must remain flexible to meet evolving needs, so does the approach to analytics. Effective data analytics planning takes the meaning, purpose, and application of the analytics into account at every step of the process.
ISF works to help state agencies complete successful projects through strategy, process, and technology.