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You’ve decided that a project is worth doing.

What to do next? As a non-technical executive, you want to know what you’re signing up for.

As non-technical executive, you can’t care about the technical details. But you need to know that the basic pieces are in place. Here are five key pieces to any data project:

Know your systems

Good data begins with good systems. And teams that know how to use them to full advantage.

As the executive, you don’t need to know the details. You do need to:

  • Use Your Intuition.
    If you think something SHOULD be possible and your team says know, keep pushing. This is one of my most valuable services. I’ve worked with dozens of systems. I have a pretty good idea of what’s possible.
  • Make sure your users keep learning.
    New system success is more than not blowing up the business. Your job is to push for ROI from every system investment. Which means making sure people keep learning and improving. Which means paying for training, conferences and even consulting.


Before the cloud, you didn’t worry about how to get data out of system. It sat on your servers, a simple connection away.

In the cloud, it’s never so easy.

Before you can work with your data, you need to get your data first.

And every software you buy will have a different approach.

Your job is to make sure your IT teams chooses a standard approach and sticks with it.


When software was on premise it was obvious where the data was going to live.

On your servers.

Now, if you have many systems, you’ll most likely need a place to put all the data.

You’ll hear this described as an organizational data store.

Here you want to be sure that whatever store you choose, it doesn’t take a large amount of ongoing support.


You want your data to be easy to use.

Easy to use by data savvy users.

Which is not the case when data first gets pulled out of its source systems.

You need to take that data and make it understandable to your data focused business people.

Your question:

Can a solid accountant/marketing analyst/production analyst look at the data and get to work?


Different people need different outputs.

Many want data dumped Excel. Others want pretty graphs or nice dashboards.

Two key things:

  • Creating output and making things pretty is the EASIEST part of the project. You must do the previous four steps first.
  • People don’t like following that first point. They love Power BI or Tableau and think that a few licenses will solve all their problems. But that’s the wrong way to think about it. YOu need to have the other pieces in place first.
  • You need to limit the number of tools folks use.

As an executive, you won’t go into the details of all the above. But you want to make sure that all the pieces are in place.

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