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Get an Analyst Sparring Partner: Case studies

Big expectations are placed on a data analyst. They’re expected to be able to connect many sources of information, digest huge amounts of data, drill to the route cause and then deliver insights to the business in a visually pleasing way – on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis.

Whilst the technology is available – and more user-friendly and accessible than ever – it takes time and energy to design an end-to-end business system rich with data that’s important to your business.

Data maturity requires investment in people. It means realising the value of data in their business processes and nurturing their data ecosystem. This is all about people and high-quality sustainable data routines.

ivity’s Sparring Partners mentor people tasked with improving business by using data that’s locked in its systems.

There are two main routes into data analysis. One is the business route, where a high performing business partner is championed with system adoption and scaling through smarter ways of working. The other is the technology route, where people enter work as a business analyst. This is a less friendly path but is becoming the norm. Increasingly, people leave education with data science qualifications and go straight into analyst jobs without experience in operations.

Leading data-driven organisations invest in a culture of visibility, curiosity and well-designed systems.. These systems unite all business functions to help them connect with their customers, suppliers and the internal delivery of business. Whether you’re recruiting a newly qualified business analyst or transitioning an internal business partner, an ivity Sparring Partner will help.

The following case studies give a feel for what a Sparring Partner can deliver.

Case Study 1: Business partner becomes data champion for implementation of ZoHo

The problem

The remit of the sponsoring line manager was to use the ZoHo capability to streamline internal reporting and bring new data and fresh perspective to business development. Like all modern systems, the capability to customise and shape ZoHo is seemingly endless. In its introductory state, there’s no depth of logic that’s mapped to the established business process. It’s a blank canvas.

The line manager was also responsible for helping a newly promoted business associate find their way in a newly created role.

A rising star business associate, at the forefront of service delivery, was recruited to lead the project to integrate the new ZoHo system so it worked well for the business. The upside of helping an existing team member’s transition is that they’re less likely to over-engineer systems for the sake of creating data. They appreciate the nuances of their business and the importance of the added value of human interaction. In theory they know what needs to be done, but they need technical help to get there.

In this case, the data had already been migrated into ZoHo and some standard reports had been auto-populated using artificial intelligence and standard business headings. The reports illuminated nothing because the data was a mess. There was a lot of unnecessary data and there were a lot of holes, duplication and categorisation issues.

How ivity helped

The ivity Strength Survey highlighted the mentee’s training needs – it told us which technical skills they aced, which they lacked and those where they needed to build confidence.

To build the navigational skills of the new data champion, our Sparring Partner helped them to export the migrated data and unlock it. They really got to know what data existed, where it came from and how to model it. We introduced data handling skills and shortcuts outside of ZoHo – to enable working across the business with improved data that could be understood on different systems.

In the next sessions, we introduced validation and tracking skills. The mentee learned to capture

snapshots of data in the system and created control routines. This was needed to understand how business users were interacting with the system and to identify required data categories and sources – vital for a good data strategy.

People promoted to analyst roles usually already have a good relationship with data creators. But the change from peer to project leader requires more. Many failed data projects are the result of data behaviours being forced with system changes. People are generally reluctant to change. Sustainable data behaviours are created when the project champion can: communicate and lead the implementation with conviction; make the change appetising by reducing or streamlining work processes; and use the results to add more value, generate more business and reduce waste.


After every session, we were able to show the project sponsors how our mentoring sessions were progressing the business initiative. We boosted our mentee’s knowledge and confidence within a short period. It meant they were able to work across systems and truly champion high-quality data for the organisation.

We were also available for quick support – to signpost solutions and bounce ideas off. And we provide additional learning resources to get our mentees extra support. These shareable resources can be used with teams to help build knowledge and a high-quality data culture.

Case Study 2: Business analyst raising the game in business management with


The problem

A business rockstar was supporting the team with phenomenal growth. They joined the business straight out of education (mathematics and computing) and had quickly got to grips with the ed tech industry.

Pipedrive was their primary forecasting, CRM and MIS system. But a plethora of systems were used whilst the business was young (including many spreadsheets).

Ad hoc questions from the business development team were being answered, but it was time to

introduce reporting to communication routines. The training focused on addressing audiences and data quality. Data was not layered and visualised in a way that made an impact with the various audiences.

How ivity helped

This data protégée had advanced data skills but hadn’t developed them with a Sparring Partner. We carried out a joint analysis that enabled us to create attributes to review outliers. This joint analysis allowed the trainer to share the benefits and shortcomings of powerful query functions (upstream and downstream). We introduced shortcuts that saved time and techniques for labelling that helped with data governance. We looked at the business from the new perspective of service norms.

In the next sessions we were able to create new segmentations for Pipedrive, which enriched the data and query – so people within the organisation saw meaningful and interesting headlines that were critical to their work and business performance.

Audience awareness was a big topic. The analyst mindset is often that a user will know intuitively where to look next to get a deeper understanding. Experience is needed to understand human navigation. We share ways to get a good feel for engagement – so the client can test a new look and feel with better cascading of relevant business information.

We found that a lot of the data needed wasn’t being recorded. It wasn’t an issue with admin load, but a problem with perceived value. To overcome this, we used strategies to help visualise the impact of missing data for those relying on this business intelligence.


The new visibility of the missing data and its implications for the business increased understanding about the importance of data quality. Its capture was improved and celebrated – as the quality data needed for great business information.

Communication also improved. Visibility allowed teams to talk about the drivers of business

performance and really act on the risks and opportunities. The analytics enabled by the new attributes allowed teams to pinpoint the business activities in need of TLC. Overall, it created a fairer playing field where business teams could see the output of their collective and individual energy.

What you get with an ivity Sparring Partner

🥊 Access to an expert who can help you do a better job with your data

🥊 10 hours of one-to-one online training that can be used over a one-year period

🥊 Assessment of data strength at both the beginning and end of your journey – so you can celebrate your achievements

🥊 Data techniques that address your current business challenges and improve business performance

🥊 A confidential space to discuss your unique blend of challenges and to ask for support

🥊 Help to resolve data quality issues

🥊 Access to online learning resources to help you create a curious work environment in your


Plan, do, review with an ivity data Sparring Partner.


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