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Making Big Data understandable in bite sized chunks.

My name is Oz Sultan, CMU, Pitt, Duquesne, Sapient, the Economist, Moody's

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  • How do you conceptualize strategic initiatives?

    What does the process look like from start to finish? How do you determine the viability and success of an initiative before and after implementation?

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    Largely, it varies on the Client size and scope.

    A general rule of thumb is:

    1) A JAD (Joint Application Design) meeting to identify and assess key business issues that have a critical near or mid-term impact and identify a list of desired outcomes. Much of this is done with whiteboard sessions, but using post its in a mindmap session is a great way to do this as well.

    2) Define a list of projects and initiatives from your session - then review with your client to see what is low hanging fruit, critical or on the near term radar.

    3) Meet and receive Senior Management buy-in or approval - there are a 100 ways that this is done, however without question - if you don't take this step, your project or initiative is 100% guaranteed to fail.

    4) Select our initiative(s) and define project scope, time, materials and resources. Project planning is instrumental to your success.

    5) Allocate existing budget or petition management or your stakeholders for budget (this process varies from company to company - in a startup its relatively easy, as most cost is resource intensive - however in a corporation, you may have to get allocations and potentially petition management or a budgetary steering committee for funds.

    At FYE, we had to get CMO and CIO approval on $5M of funding for 17 web initiatives that were mapped and run in parallel over 14 months. We also had to work with our third party consultants to ramp up staff for 18 months toe ensure we actually had human capital to execute these projects.

    At my last startup, it became a sequencing issue - what project don't we want to do now (in smaller organizations, there's always too much to do and too few resources).

    6) Metrics - How are you going to define success? What metrics do you need to decide that?

    7) Kickoff - Manage and measure: initiatives need run as individual projects, which need to be managed and measured over time.

    8) Complete and review - what worked? What didn't? What can be improved in the future.

    Those are rough guidelines - but they generally apply n most business situations.