Providing Business Value Early and Often – The Agile Macro Approach to Advanced Data Analytics

Macro Solutions uses an agile approach to advanced data analytics providing immediate business value

Today, analytical predictions and recommendations are readily available through off-the-shelf data tools, empowering decision makers, personalizing the way the public interacts with government services, and revolutionizing the way in which to deliver desired outcomes. However, without the proper guidance, this brave new analytics world poses a few challenges for federal agencies looking to take advantage of this burgeoning capability.


Many data consultancies propose a “Big Bang” approach in providing advanced data analytics for a given agency – assembling a large team working 6-8 months before providing any business value.


Additionally, though seemingly intuitive, many federal agencies’ IT teams acquire the latest analytics technology prior to identifying a business problem that needs solving. Advanced data analytics driven by technology versus business problems is a significant roadblock to building a data-driven strategy.


Macro does not believe in either of these approaches to successfully address the federal government’s data challenges.  We also believe that it is often cultural challenges, not technological ones, that hold agencies back.


In addressing the “Big Bang” approach, our team prefers to start with a small agile tiger team that immerses itself in understanding an agency’s vision/mission and exactly what knowledge drives their critical decisions. An agile approach ensures that the technical solution matches each federal client’s unique challenges and opportunities. With this, we continually iterate and align the product with strategic goals and changing business requirements – always with the delivery of continuous value in mind. Recognizing that decisions are only as good as the underlying data, we then follow our proven Advanced Data Analytics Lifecycle methodology.


We also believe that instead of throwing technology at an issue, we address the business challenge and tailor an incremental technical solution to the business problem. However, that does not mean that results come slowly. Using our agile approach, we quickly deliver a minimal viable product so that meaningful business value can be regularly reviewed and reacted to, getting us much faster to the right solution.


Leveraging our many years of work with federal agencies coupled with deep data analytics experience, we know that an exceptional understanding of our client’s strategic goals, operational environments, and organizational challenges – from the top down – is key to successful data outcomes. We also know that data completeness, accuracy, and applicability is needed to achieve those results. As agencies are finding out, data is rarely clean. As such, an efficient profiling of data can help determine which data is useful to the agency and what is required to turn that data into the “information” on which educated business decisions are based.


Our work is done side-by-side with agency product owners and stakeholders to verify business requirements, then prepare data to fully understand content and quality. Additionally, we engage subject matter experts to address anomalies and possible data cleansing actions.


As noted above, Macro follows our Advanced Data Analytics Lifecycle to best meet our clients’ analytics needs. This incremental process can be repeated to refine of expand on analytic solutions.


  1. Understand the agency’s strategy and critical questions


  1. Define the question(s) to be answered.
    • What does the business need to know for informed decisions?
    • What level of detail is required for informational insight?


  1. Identify and assess potential data sources
    • What internal/intra-agency/external/public data is available to be applied to the business question?


  1. Determine data acquisition strategy
    • What are the various ingestion processes needed for bringing data into the environment?
      • Prepare a concept of operations for the ingestion process
      • Facilitate the Memoranda of Understanding for data required and use of data
      • Review data to understand the accuracy, completeness, and alignment to business need


  1. Prepare data
    • What strategies need to be applied to address incorrect or incomplete data?
      • Ensure metadata is available for proper use of information
      • Cleanse data to expand reliability without changing the meaning of data


  1. Conduct analytics
    • What type of analytic(s) is (are) required?
      • Diagnostic
      • Description
      • Predictive
      • Perspective


  1. Develop visualizations for communicating analytics information


  1. Evaluate the outcome and determine if tooling, setup or data need modification or enhancement


Macro puts an organization’s business value first and applies the appropriate technology in solving the data analytics problems incrementally to provide timely, targeted, decision assistance early and often for all users.

Contact us to learn more about our unique approach to the federal government’s big data challenges.