How to set up a global BI team at pace

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As part of our ECI Unlocked programme connecting business leaders across the ECI portfolio, we recently welcomed Sharon Langer and Robyn Johnston from MiQ to share how they built a high-performance global BI team from scratch in 100 days.

MiQ is a leading programmatic media partner for marketers and agencies, and as such it collects, analyses and serves back to its customers vast amounts of high-quality data. With increased reporting needs in their own business, Sharon and Robyn were looking to deliver the same data quality back to their own business. What would MiQ – for MiQ – look like? There were some key things they knew they were after, which was a high-performance team, with no compromise on data integrity, and focused on delivering performance. High standards even with a long runway, so how did they manage to deliver that in just 100 days and what did they get right?

1. The balance of teams and third parties

MiQ were aware that if they needed to set up the team at pace, it wasn’t going to be possible to hire everyone they wanted within the short timeline. However, they were clear on what they felt could be outsourced, which was task-based activity rather than ownership. Sharon and Robyn (who you may be able to tell by the end of this article are big F1 fans!) likened the use of third parties to F1 teams like McLaren using Mercedes engines. Engines are complex to design and build, if it’s something that can be outsourced, focus on other things where you can make more of a difference.

MiQ also made sure that third parties understood what was required of them and got them up to speed quickly. They were also conscious of making sure that once the team is set up and things become more BAU, that there was a plan in place to start to transition out third parties and begin bringing in people with great potential to take ownership, but recognising it was key to not try and do this from the start when you are running very quickly.

2. Have outstanding communication

Clear communication from the BI team to third parties and to end-users was key to getting everyone up to speed quickly. Putting this at the heart of the project from team stand-ups to end-user training will keep everyone to their objectives and avoid surprises.

Sharon and Robyn emphasised that it is important to remember high performance is inclusive and to deliver on that objective you have to make sure decisions are team-based. High pace can cause pressure, but this needs to not have a negative impact on inclusivity – making sure there are no micro-aggressions, interrupting, speaking on behalf of other people, etc. To deliver high performance have to have the whole team playing in.

3. Testing and quality control is key

Because MiQ put data integrity at the heart of this project, they knew they needed a rigorous testing programme to deliver that. When allocating project time, a large proportion was spent on cleansing the data in granular detail to check its accuracy. Trying to save time here will just cost you more time later.

It was also front of mind that things can go wrong at any point in the stack or data flow, so make sure rigorous testing is happening throughout.

4. Managing incidents

Have a process for discovering incidents, clearing up incidents and communicating incidents right from the start. At MiQ they have alarm bells set up for the things imagine might go wrong so they’re prepared when it happens. In fact, Sharon and Robyn said they quite enjoyed the process of creatively thinking of everything that could ever break! Just as in F1 they look at every part of the potential safety process from fire marshals to headsets – they consider everything that could potentially impact its performance.

Having transparent notifications throughout the pipeline means you can know what went wrong and where, and it means no blind troubleshooting. There are already clear resolution steps and checklists to follow prior to ever needing them. And if there are any incidents, make sure you also put steps in to have rigorous post-mortems and feed that back into the process.

MiQ now have a collaborative empowered global BI team, a data cube combining multiple disparate sources, a clear strategy for filling any data gaps, end-to-end data management and a steady roll out of the BI function that is driving change across the business. That Sharon and Robyn delivered all this at pace without ever leaving behind the high standards they set themselves is an incredible achievement.

Sharon Langer, MiQ

About the author

Sharon Langer

Sharon Langer is Global Director, Business Intelligence, for MiQ, with global responsibility for systems, business intelligence, data, and information security, delivering prioritised strategic programmes at pace. View LinkedIn profile. 

Robyn Johnston MiQ

About the author

Robyn Johnston

Robyn Johnston is a Business Intelligence Lead at MiQ, having worked across different roles within MiQ over the last seven years. View LinkedIn profile. 

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