Stories from the Data Trenches with Liz Weber and Tessa Enns

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Episode Summary

Back in December, Dave and I had the privilege of doing a speaking event at the MinneFRAMA (Finance, Retail, Marketing Analytics) event. Naturally, we decided to try something different and tape a live episode with two of my favorite analytics professionals in the Twin Cities, Tessa Enns and Liz Weber.

It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience: Sipping coffee, and talking analytics with these two amazing women. The venue didn’t hurt either! We were in a huge room at the Minnesota Science Museum, with our backs against a wall of windows overlooking the Mississippi river. We learned a lot about how to make sure your analytics projects are truly successful.

Tessa Enns

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a data visualization must be worth far more than that - Dave Mathias
I’m not working to fuel my technical skills, my technical skills are working to fuel the business challenges
— Tessa Enns

Tessa talked to us about “accidentally” coming into an analyst role at Cargill, being given a huge transportation dataset and being tasked with finding something in it. Tessa is the kind of amazing person who looked at this as an opportunity, and went right to work, learning the data, learning the business, and learning technical skills along the way.

What is so amazing about her journey is that she was able to build a strong relationship with the business, who now trust the data, find opportunities to improve, and know how to turn the numbers into action that drives real monetary value.

Tessa preaches an approach where analysts need to “lead with the needs, not with the data”. She says this helps the analyst understand the real problem and help solve it. She also recommends putting every insight into dollar terms that your business will understand. “I put the cost savings or cost impacts right at the top of every dashboard”.

Liz Weber

Liz.jpg
Take some time to understand the business processes that create your data. You will be able to understand your business teams and tell better stories that drive change
— Liz Weber

Liz talked to us about a highly complex pricing challenge that her VP faced a number of years ago. The team was going through a major transition, and had invested a huge amount of money in their business. The VP wanted a dashboard to start monitoring whether this transformation was going successfully.

Liz started with the end in mind. Learn about what the leader wants, where they’re trying to go, and what the key measures of success really look like. She then sat down with the IT team, and the business teams underneath this VP. Making sure that everyone had a voice in the project was mission-critical to make sure that she 1) had the right resources, 2) had everyone moving in the same direction, 3) made the solution better than just her own ideas. It also helped with adoption, and making sure that everyone actually USED the end product.

What she learned from this project was that your leader/sponsor matters. If you don’t have the right sponsorship, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or what kinds of technical knowledge you possess. You need to make sure you’re aligned to leaders who are committed to doing something with the outputs you produce.

Resources & Links

Tessa on LinkedIn: in/tessa-enns

Tessa on Twitter: @TessaEnns

Liz on LinkedIn: in/lizweber2

Twin Cities Tableau User Group

Twin Cities Alteryx User Group

Minneanalytics

Cargill

UNFI Supervalu


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