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Why getting started with analytics has nothing to do with analytics
Imagine shortening foster care stays by measuring characteristics of permanently reunifying families. Or precisely identifying activities that lead people to self-sufficiency faster. Or dramatically reducing service delivery costs while improving outcomes for people? You can—with analytics.
With so many human services agencies investing in and using analytics, these things should be widespread realities—not distant possibilities. But they aren’t, at least not everywhere. Too often, agencies are caught in the hype, jumping into human services analytics without the right foundation. They are focusing on analytics as a tool to solve a problem, rather than as a new function to embed into the whole organization.
There is great enthusiasm for analytics in human services. The Accenture Analytics Pulse Survey reveals that 95 percent of US state and local decision makers say they are using analytics to address errors and non-compliance. That’s the largest use of analytics among all six countries surveyed, and larger than the US federal market (66 percent.)
While this enthusiasm has translated into outcomes in pockets, analytics has yet to transform human services delivery to the extent that it could. Survey participants point to barriers to the success—topping the list:
Lack of investment funding (57 percent)
Lack of understanding (52 percent)
Data protection/privacy (48 percent)
To become insight-driven in all public service delivery, human services agencies must:
Start with the end in sightAnalytics allows agencies to target programs, resources and funds with great nuance and specificity. Agencies can proactively address high-risk areas, pursue the highest-value cases, and develop interventions to change client behaviors.
Keep sponsors on boardAnalytics requires organizations to reinvent many aspects of their work. Managing successfully through this change demands unwavering leadership support from start to finish.
Find the money fastIdentifying discrete areas where analytics insights can unlock cost savings or generate new revenue can help agencies move past this challenge.
Build the networkHuman services agencies must rely on a stakeholder network for critical data. Not only do they collect data from partners, they should feed this network with data-driven insights.
Human services analytics is essential to outcomes—and to delivering public service for the future. Those organizations that take the time to organize the vision and set the right strategy start by focusing on where they want to go, not just on the tools to get them there.
February 19, 2014
Analytics Pulse Survey 2012: From “What If” to “What Works”
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