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Investment – a perspective from Aggreko

Elizabeth Hollinger from Aggreko talks about aligning your data investments with your business ambition.
So a typical project will always start with a very simple one page take on document, what question are we trying to answer? Why are we trying to answer it? What benefit is it going to drive? And where do we see any risks or kind of blockers along the way, all of our projects have to have an executive level sponsor, as well as a nominated product owner or business SME, that’s going to drive that forward. So we kind of pull together that document just in one page together, to really make sure we’ve tested our own thinking and whether that’s a useful thing to do. And have we really thought this through in terms of priority and benefit.
And once we have that ready, then we set up a series of initial sprints, so a couple of weeks of data discovery, extracting the data, aggregating it, validating it going across the business, comparing it back to previously reported data, to make sure that whatever we build on top of that is trusted information. So once we’ve kind of arranged all of that and that can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how big or complex that data set is.
So what we usually do is run three, two week sprints and at the end of those three sprints we will pull together a retrospective of a group of wider people in the organisation to feedback what we found across the last four, six, or eight weeks depending on how long they’ve been. The benefits that we’ve got already and what our plans might be for the next series of sprints. And that’s really just a sense check first to see are we getting from this project, what we expect is there anything different that we should be doing at this stage and should we then pivot into answering a particularly different question.
So we often do these things by hypotheses, and always working collaboratively with that product owner or business SME. I think prioritising where you spend your budget is always a really difficult question. And the way that we prioritise both our time and our budget is in line with what our overall organisation objectives are. So it’s much easier for us to justify spend, to bring in expertise, to purchase some new software, if we are doing that to realise a benefit that is that the overall Aggreko or organisation level.
It’s much easier for us then to get buy in from an executive and level down, both in terms of cash if we need that, but also in terms of time and getting their input into what the best thing is to do. So I would say the way that we prioritise our time and our budget is by the strategic priorities that we have in Aggreko overall.

I asked Elizabeth, for people struggling to justify investment in data, can you share how you secured buy-in to your work?

So many great points there, in particular I was drawn to Elizabeth’s comments about prioritisation and the value of linking investments back to the overall business strategy.

Let’s use the workbooks to bring this alive. Given what was shared in the videos, can you now have a think about the investment questions? Can you shape a good response to them too?

illustraton of the strategy and investement questions in this step Questions (Click to expand) or see below


  • What order do we need to do them in?
  • How much investment is required?
  • How much of the existing investment supports this already?
  • When will we see a return on Investment?
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Introduction to Data for Business Leaders

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