When it comes to analytics talent, CFOs often limit the scope of their advanced analytics centre of excellence (ACOE) by relying too heavily on finance staff, said Gartner recently.
CFOs should look at other, sometimes cheaper, talent sources, such as analytic staff from other functions, university hires, or third-party service providers who are more than capable of executing certain elements of the analytics development cycle, the firm advised.
“Many CFOs are finding that their finance budget is not expanding to meet their advanced analytics ambitions,” said Marco Steecker, director, research in the Gartner Finance practice. “They can then end up settling for pursuing greater efficiencies with existing analytics capabilities instead of driving truly transformational improvements through new analytics capabilities.”
This efficiency-centric approach may free up capacity, but it can also cause CFOs to overlook the variety of other cost-effective support available in other parts of their organisation and outside of it, Gartner cautioned.
Targeting efficiency gains is a comfortable fallback for CFOs because it allows for the kind of definitive, prescriptive project scope which tends to appeal most to those with finance backgrounds, said Steecker.
“Yet to get the most from advanced analytics CFOs need to get comfortable with less formal, more exploratory projects that can yield unexpected benefits and learnings,” he advised.
Other talent sources such as university students and third-party service providers have their strengths, said Gartner.
Each source of alternative analytic talent has different inherent comparative advantages at performing certain elements of the analytic process.
“University students can offer cost effective access to academic training and university resources and a more open conception of what can be achieved with analytics, while third-party service providers can support more complex tasks such as application integration,” Steecker pointed out.
Taking a more exploratory approach to analytics can also help keep initial costs low if CFOs begin projects with interpreter/analyst roles and only add more specialised roles, such as data scientists, once an ACOE has matured and its activities merit such expertise, Gartner observed.
Mapping the talent strategy to the maturity of an ACOE is a critical part of a scalable and sustainable long-term analytics plan, the firm added.
CFOs should narrow the scope at first and use analytics projects to take on business problems that they are confident the ACOE can address rather than pursuing a menu of possible analyses, said Steecker.
“Prioritise projects by net business value and strategic alignment to demonstrate the business case for more speculative projects,” he advised.