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Most valuable player: Building the right government analytics team

Learn why building an analytics team is an urgent, mission critical priority for delivering public service for the future.

Overview

 

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Cost-effectively delivering public service for the future requires greater use of government analytics, but finding a team with the right combination of skills requires agencies to seek talent in unconventional ways – across both the domestic and global workforce – in search of proficiencies not traditionally sought or found in government.

Because there’s no proven formula or universal rule book for seeking analytics talent, creativity and strategy will be the keys to effectiveness.

Background

There’s nothing traditional about building a government analytics team, so the starting point for the talent search doesn’t exist in one specific place—it’s everywhere. Creating an effective analytics team doesn’t necessarily require a bigger staff, but it does demand the right players, which creates new questions for public service leaders to consider: What skills are required? What are the job descriptions that will bring those skills to the table? How do we combine these for the right lineup of talent?

According to Accenture research, most organizations will have to look both inside and outside of their organizations for the right people who possess the applicable skills. “Hard” skills will continue to come from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals and those with specific technical knowledge. But it’s not just about technical skills—“soft” skills like curiosity, problem solving, communication and technical writing are just as critical.

Analysis

Accenture research indicates the US will generate 44 percent of the nation’s analytics jobs, but will see a shortfall in workers, with only 23 percent possessing the necessary skills. This means that as public service leaders continue to embrace government analytics, mainstream HR practices will no longer be relevant. Accenture research also indicates that 47 percent of businesses struggle to find the right analytics talent; however, those agencies that prioritize staffing at the onset achieve telling return on investment (ROI).

Building the best team starts with strategically identifying the right people and skills, and creatively matching them to agency objectives to close this capability gap.

Recommendations

In government analytics, team work is paramount, and staffing the team is the critical first step. Agencies should consider an in-house inventory using employee assessments to identify staff with skills not previously considered critical, realizing the available supply will likely warrant outsourcing beyond domestic resources.

Agencies will also need a game plan for identifying jobs that match agency objectives, and a blend of skills and qualities—from technical professionals to business managers and creative thinkers. Innovative thinking will affect a search process that should include in-house talent and outsourcing.

Agencies should also recognize that government analytics is maturing and the best way to measure cost/benefits is still emerging. Calculating ROI must be outcome-based.

As agencies turn to government analytics as an effective means for delivering public service for the future, success will depend on strategically staffing the right team with the best players.


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