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Data, Data Everywhere…Albatross or Opportunity?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 in Analytics | 0 comments

Data, Data Everywhere…Albatross or Opportunity?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner tells the experience of a sailor returning from a long voyage. In the early parts of the poem, the mariner describes how an albatross leads the crew out an ice jam in the Antarctic, but the mariner then kills the bird. The crew vacillates between viewing the killing of the albatross as a good or a bad thing. However, they soon become surrounded by “water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Eventually, the mariner encounters death, but survives after accepting his guilt – however as...

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What Is Data Science and Why Do We Need More Data Scientists?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Analytics | 0 comments

What Is Data Science and Why Do We Need More Data Scientists?

If you take a quick look at Glassdoor.com and their “50 Best Jobs in America” for 2017, you will notice that Data Scientist ranks at #1, among several other “data/analytics” titles in the list. Although this is evidently a highly desirable job, there appears to be a large talent gap in the field. Recent research by McKinsey Global Institute has projected that by next year, the US could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 professionals with deep analytical skills, i.e., advanced statistical training and knowledge of machine learning. What...

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Same Data, Different Conclusions: It’s a Good Thing

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Analytics, Workforce Management | 2 comments

Same Data, Different Conclusions: It’s a Good Thing

In just a couple weeks, I will be on my way to Italy for a two-week vacation! Che bella! When I was deciding where to go with my husband, I experienced a bit of work-related decision-making déjà vu. Every option we considered was very different from the next, but all were possibilities chosen based on the same exact set of data (number of vacation days available, budget, etc.). I felt like I was back at the office working with a team, arguing about what decision to make, even though we’re usually reviewing the same data. The difficulty...

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Defining the Problem – How Savvy Data Pros Get It Right

Posted by on Jul 23, 2017 in Analytics | 0 comments

Defining the Problem – How Savvy Data Pros Get It Right

Ever hear the phrase, “The first step is the hardest”? While it may be a common phrase for motivational posters, it also applies to the first step in making data-driven decisions: defining the problem you’re trying to solve. Without a clearly or accurately defined problem, time and other resources will be wasted, and you’ll be left unable to make an effective decision. Often, nailing down exactly what you’re trying to solve is more difficult than the analysis itself. Analysts – how many times has a decision-maker come to you looking for...

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A Perfect Match: Data Analysts Pair Technical Skills with Soft Skills

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Analytics, Workforce Management | 4 comments

A Perfect Match: Data Analysts Pair Technical Skills with Soft Skills

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day Weekend – the unofficial kickoff to wedding season! In that spirit, I’m going to discuss a very important relationship in every data analyst’s life: the marriage of technical skills to their soft-skill counterparts. Just like every relationship, this one requires understanding and balancing complementary aspects to be successful. For our model skill-coupling, let’s look at how the skill for knowing how your sphere of influence—i.e. awareness of what you can do yourself, and how you can influence...

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Put Your Data Visuals on a Diet: No More Pie Charts!

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Analytics, Workforce Management | 0 comments

Put Your Data Visuals on a Diet: No More Pie Charts!

  Happy Pi Day! To celebrate, I will be discussing one of the most widely-used (but not widely useful!) data visualizations: the Pie Chart. Data-driven, strategic decisions are only as good as the information behind them—and to decision-makers presented with data, the information’s only as good as the chart or graph that represents it. As data analysis is used more and more, the communication of actionable information becomes just as important as the information itself. While charts and graphs are invaluable tools for easily and quickly...

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In 2017, Show the Way—With Data

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Analytics | 0 comments

In 2017, Show the Way—With Data

This year, more than ever, Federal government leaders will benefit from those of us who are able to visualize data effectively to get their message across. There’s no better way to illustrate the ROI of a program than to literally illustrate it—with effective, irrefutable visuals of the data—which can serve as common ground for discussions about the work being analyzed. As we begin the first 100 days of new leadership in the Federal government, we’ve heard many reports from the Trump administration and media analysts about an increased level...

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Are You a Good Data Storyteller?

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Are You a Good Data Storyteller?

Data talks. It conjures images. It tells stories: of success and ambition, as well as failure and challenge. It looks to the past and to the future, while delivering a clear and accurate now. But data professionals know it speaks best when arranged with a simple visual alongside a cogent message. Visuals show the story of your data, but are your visuals telling the right story the right way? When data storytelling goes wrong—when the visual is too complicated, when there are too many meanings in the graphic, when the message can’t be read...

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Analysis Paralysis: Find Time to Get the Croissant with Your Cup of Coffee

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Analytics, Financial Management | 0 comments

Analysis Paralysis: Find Time to Get the Croissant with Your Cup of Coffee

You’ve just submitted the report that your supervisor wanted on projected HR costs for next quarter. As you lean back to enjoy your second cup of coffee and begin to tackle your next project, an email asking you to run the analysis based on a different set of assumptions pops up in your inbox. So much for getting a head-start on that other project. We’ve all been in this situation at least once. I’ll be the first to admit that in my early years as an analyst, I found myself copying and pasting – creating new worksheets for each request. Soon...

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Open Data: Your Future, Your Now

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Analytics, Grants & Assistance | 0 comments

Open Data: Your Future, Your Now

I spent a lot of time this summer focused on our curriculum for pass-through entities (PTE) and recipients alongside implementation of the DATA Act. This past Wednesday, I took the opportunity to reflect on  these topics while I attended the Data Transparency 2016 + White House Open Data Innovation Summit. I approached my day from the perspective of what can I share with non-Federal entities (NFE). Here are my key takeaways: Open Data in Ecosystems. The question of the day seemed to be, “we have the data, now how do we use it.” From the White...

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EEOC Executive Leadership Conference Wrap-Up

Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

EEOC Executive Leadership Conference Wrap-Up

Last week Management Concepts facilitated a workshop on data visualization at the EEOC Executive Leadership Conference. It was great to see so much interest in the topic since organizations are faced with more data than we sometimes know what to do with. Because we process graphics much faster than text (60,000 times faster) , creating visuals to convey information in the data is critical to making the most of the data you have. I wanted to share some key takeaways based on themes that resonated most in the workshop discussions. Make one key...

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How Much Data Do I Need?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

How Much Data Do I Need?

As an analyst and evaluator, the most frequent question I am asked is, “How much data do I need for this analysis?” You need to have enough usable, representative data to answer your questions. Here’s how you get there. Representativeness It’s common to focus on a response rate for a survey or count rows of data as a way to show we have enough data. When I teach Management Concepts five day Analytics Boot Camp course, I conduct an activity using marbles to illustrate the importance of knowing how representative your data is of your whole...

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Top 5 Questions from Our DATA Act Webinar

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Top 5 Questions from Our DATA Act Webinar

With so many questions asked at the end of our DATA Act webinar last week, we were unable to answer them all on the spot, but here’s a follow-up on the top five questions asked. (If you were unable to attend the webinar live, access a recording here.) To whom does the DATA Act apply? The DATA Act applies to all Federal agencies. By May 8, 2017, all Federal agencies will be required to report their spending information in compliance with the new data-centric reporting structure. No later than August 7, 2018, OMB will decide whether DATA Act...

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Picture This: Data Visualization

Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Picture This: Data Visualization

Three Reasons You Need to “Visualize” Your Data In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how an evidence-based culture supports making data-driven decisions. As I was reviewing our data visualization course this week, however, I was reminded of why it’s so important to communicate clearly about the information your data surfaces. Communicating about data requires us to look beyond the raw data and find the story within it. Whether you use a chart, slide deck, or run-of-the-mill Pivot Table, clearly conveying your data insights can go a long way...

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People Analytics Is Trending Up

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

People Analytics Is Trending Up

This summer, I have been watching a lot of baseball. The sport has always captured my attention because it is highly strategic game. Baseball managers are faced with hundreds of analytical decisions each game, including who to start, when to substitute players, what pitches to throw, how to align the defense based on a hitter’s tendencies, and how aggressively to approach base running (just to name a few). Baseball franchises have increasingly turned to analytical models in order to make more informed decisions in constructing rosters and...

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Why Don’t We Make More Data-Driven Decisions?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Why Don’t We Make More Data-Driven Decisions?

As of this writing, Data.gov hosts 184,055 datasets. We have petabytes upon petabytes of data, yet struggle to find the best answers for common problems like employee engagement, program schedules, and budget forecasts. In a recent panel on data-driven government, public and private sector leaders alike agreed that to use our data effectively it’s imperative that organizations apply good data governance strategy and processes. While this is true (more on that in a future blog post), whether you make data-driven decisions is also driven by...

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Breaking Down Big Data

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Breaking Down Big Data

The term “Big Data” is thrown around a lot in the IT and data analytics communities. Managing the size and complexity of available data has become a primary challenge for systems administrators, IT professionals, and data analysts alike. For those of us used to interacting with only a few hundred records in a data set, the idea of “Big Data” can seem overwhelming. However, the exponentially growing availability of “Big Data” provides government and business professionals with unprecedented access to information that can lead to better...

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DATA Act – Federal Countdown to May 2017

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Analytics, Workforce Management | 0 comments

DATA Act – Federal Countdown to May 2017

Last week my colleague Kim Coelho brought us up-to-date on the data standards updated by Treasury last week. This hopefully will allow movement on DATA Act implementation. Several agencies reported to the Government Accountability Office prior to April that their progress was hindered due to the lack of a final DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS). Any delays are concerning at this point as the statutory deadline for most requirements is May 2017. It may be that the release of the DAIMS will enable those people in the weeds of DATA Act...

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DATA Act Standards Released: What’s the Impact?

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

DATA Act Standards Released: What’s the Impact?

At the end of April, the Treasury Department released the fourth and final iteration of the data management standards called for by the DATA Act. These standards lay an important foundation for the rest of the Federal government to implement the DATA Act, which the Office of Management and Budget and Treasury are charged with executing. The DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS, v1.0) presents data exchange standards, refined over the past year based on feedback from agencies and public stakeholders. The DAIMS includes standards for the...

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Myth or Reality? I Don’t Need Data Analytics for My Job

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Analytics | 2 comments

Myth or Reality? I Don’t Need Data Analytics for My Job

Data is exploding, especially in the Federal sector. Yet, the increase in data analytics has come with an increase in specialized data analyst roles. So, is it a myth or reality that you don’t need data analytics for your job? It’s a myth! We all need to be—and can be—our own data analysts. Here are some common misconceptions that drive this myth, followed by ways you can use data analytics in your work…even if your title isn’t “Data Analyst.” Data analysis is a niche skill set, only for elite statisticians. While it’s true that it takes...

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Understanding Data for Better Analysis

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Understanding Data for Better Analysis

What Exactly Am I Looking at? Data analytics has exploded: We have more data at our fingertips than ever before. And we can do more with data than ever before. Demonstrating data leadership in 2016 requires that we better understand the data we have at our disposal, and that we are aware of institutional priorities that drive the questions we ask of our data. We must recognize that learning more about data—and opening up our data to collaborative engagement—can have tremendous impact on the quality of our analysis. Translating massive amounts...

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Visualization and Metrics: Using Data to Build High-Performing Organizations

Posted by on Mar 4, 2016 in Analytics | 0 comments

Visualization and Metrics: Using Data to Build High-Performing Organizations

I recently attended the Government Analytics Breakfast forum hosted by Johns Hopkins University where HHS’s Chief Data Officer Dr. Caryl Brzymialkiewicz discussed the impact of data science in the Federal government. The conversation included a wide range of topics from systems structure, performance improvement, and data mapping, yet two things in particular stood out: data visualization, and useful metrics. To use data effectively to understand program performance and allocate budgets, data visualization and metrics are important areas for...

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Data Analytics in the Workplace

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Analytics | 0 comments

Data Analytics in the Workplace

Did you know that the United State Postal Service (USPS) photographs and documents every single piece of mail it processes? In 2012, this accumulated to 160 billion pieces. This huge data set serves the purpose of facilitating collaboration across law enforcement agencies. It’s just one example of how collecting, analyzing, and reacting to data can lead organizations to make strategic decisions. In our world of connected devices, email, instant messaging, and wearable technologies, collecting data is becoming the easy part. The hard part is...

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Pentagon’s Personnel Focus: Analytics

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 in Analytics | 1 comment

Pentagon’s Personnel Focus: Analytics

There is a growing interest in people analytics in both the public and private sectors. I applaud Defense Secretary Carter’s decision to create an Office of People Analytics as one of the first big steps to take a fresh look at their current and future people situation. Not only is it a perfect example of recognizing a missing link in the department’s Force of the Future initiative, it is a great example of how Ash Carter and his team are thinking differently about the situation at hand. In June I wrote about the Pentagon’s move to reform the...

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Three Ways DATA Act Standards Will Help Government Act Using Data

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Analytics | 0 comments

Three Ways DATA Act Standards Will Help Government Act Using Data

The standards are set for government data. The end of this summer marks a significant milestone achievement in the push for the Federal government to make more data-driven decisions. On August 31st, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury announced that they have officially finalized the 57 standard data definitions written in support of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (known as the DATA Act). This follows the initial standards rollout from last May. These standards aim to support...

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Analytics.usa.gov and Federal Human Capital

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Analytics, Human Resources | 0 comments

Analytics.usa.gov and Federal Human Capital

As part of Sunshine Week, the General Services Administration’s 18F Team unveiled a new real-time analytics dashboard at https://analytics.usa.gov/ that, according to the site “provides a window into how people are interacting with the government online.” Already, experts are gathering insights from the data that will both inform improvements to Federal customer service and shape the next generation of open data initiatives and dashboards to support data-driven decisions across the Federal government. By now, you might be wondering, why...

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Help Your Federal Team Hit More Home Runs

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Analytics, Human Resources, Leadership | 0 comments

Help Your Federal Team Hit More Home Runs

According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), performance information’s effect on Federal managers’ decision-making has remained largely unchanged in six years. Despite the increase in the amount, variety, and availability of performance data and analytics tools to drive decisions, performance data’s promise in the Federal Government has not yet been realized. There are many theories as to why this is the case, but I would argue that the shift to data-driven decisions in the Federal Government requires...

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I’ll take Cognitive Analytics for $1000, Alex

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Analytics, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

I’ll take Cognitive Analytics for $1000, Alex

One of my fondest memories from my childhood is my family’s nightly ritual of gathering around the TV to watch Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. I’m still a big fan of the show and when, in 2011, IBM”s Watson took on two Jeopardy champions I was captivated. Having worked on some early efforts to use Natural Language Parsing (NLP) and Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), it was great to see how the technologies had advanced to allow querying of large sets of unstructured data using plain language queries. Watson is just one, impressive, example of the...

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Sometimes Smaller is Better: Starting an HR Analytics Program

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Analytics, Human Resources, Leadership | 0 comments

Sometimes Smaller is Better: Starting an HR Analytics Program

Last week, I blogged about the emerging skillsets required in the HR function for introducing analytics and data driven decision making to the HR practice. Even with the right team in place, it can be daunting to launch your first analytic study. Much has been said about the importance of data driven decision making for HR. The early results suggest that organizations who are adopting data analytics to support HR decisions are reaping the benefits. However, as the resources available to government agencies continue to be stretched thin,...

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Are You Ready for Data-Driven Decision Making in HR?

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Analytics, Human Resources, Leadership | 0 comments

Are You Ready for Data-Driven Decision Making in HR?

A few weeks back, Management Concepts released the white paper Federal HR Trends in FY14, our take on the five trends we believe will shape the Federal human resources and human capital space this year.  In this blog, we’ll explore the third item on our list: Data Analysts in HR. It’s not news that the rise of big data is a leading story in the field of human resources or that the push for HR departments to embrace data driven decision making strategies is a major focus across the industry. Much has been said about the importance of analytics...

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