The Business Case for Analytic Staff Augmentation

May 24, 2017

By Rosie Poultney | Advanced Marketing Analytics

VP of Advanced Marketing Analytics, Rosie Poultney makes the case for brands to outsource customer analytic projects when in-house resources lack bandwidth or have capability gaps.

89 degrees with in-house people

The shortage of analytic talent remains big news in 2017. Although plenty of schools now provide graduates with highly relevant degrees, recruiting multi-talented managers to lead analytics teams is still challenging. Recruiters describe this ideal hire as the “Purple Unicorn”; someone with a few years of experience who can understand business priorities, effectively interact with the C-suite, manage a team, keep up-to-date with latest trends, and still be able to code effectively. Moreover, while you are hunting for that mythical beast, the following challenges and growing concerns persist:

  • Existing managers are overwhelmed just keeping the lights on, and never get to the transformational strategic projects they signed up for
  • Those graduates you did recruit, possibly along with more experienced staff, are leaving for more interesting roles at other companies
  • Management is starting to ask questions about your payroll and output

This is where staff augmentation can help. There are a two basic options: (1) outsource self-contained projects, and (2) contract an experienced analytic director or manager to get projects moving.

Outsource Self-Contained Projects

This option is the easiest to manage, although it can add to the workload of already busy people. Note that outsourcing high profile projects can create tensions with under-resourced in-house teams. As such, below are the more compelling arguments to help you get the project approved.

1.      Experienced analytic providers will have done similar projects before, so you can avoid more of the pitfalls. Just make sure to ask for references.

2.      An outside resources can provide results that are impartial, allowing internal stakeholders to discuss implications rather than having to defend their approach. This is particularly important when discussing potentially significant changes to business practices.

3.      A collaborative partner will help make the best use of your existing resources. Ongoing collaboration allows existing resources to focus their available time on insights and implications, improving projects incrementally as new insights are generated. Collaboration also means knowledge sharing, which equates to new skills your existing staff is bringing in-house.

4.      When projects are prioritized – often due to internal teams with limited bandwidth – it can create a backlog of pending initiatives, each with their own opportunity cost. You can outsource these projects without interfering with or delaying other internal projects, meaning opportunities for improved customer acquisition and retention can be realized much sooner.

5.      There are efficiencies to be had with an outside partner that has existing code that could be repurposed, or coding tricks that could save on processing time for each run. Make the best use of this type of partner with projects that automate existing processes. This frees up your existing analysts to do new, exciting, high-profile work that, by the way, stops them from leaving.

6.      You own the project timeline and are free from sacrificing gains due to competing projects or new priorities that cause unexpected delays.

Contract an Experienced Analytics Director or Manager

Staff augmentation can also mean bringing in someone to manage an existing team, particularly if that team is inexperienced in communicating with business stakeholders. A contractor can help get projects rolling again, effectively insourcing your projects by using your own teams to deliver. Depending on your needs, they can also get involved with people management, setting objectives and training plans, and act as a mentor until you find that Purple Unicorn.


About the Author

Rosie Poultney
VP of Advanced Marketing Analytics

Rosie Poultney is a recognized expert in analytics, segmentation, loyalty programs, media evaluation and the creation of actionable insights that drive engagement and improve the overall customer journey. She is passionate that customer behavior from all interactions, going beyond transaction data to include web searches, email responses and even wearable tech, should be leveraged to provide relevant and personalized experiences. To this end, she has focused the team on the creation of more holistic customer views, additionally using new technologies such as SAS Visual Analytics and SAS Marketing Optimization.

Prior to 89 Degrees, Rosie spent seventeen years with dunnhumby where she led the delivery of insights to C-level clients in the grocery and wider retail sectors. Her client engagements have included Macy’s, Panera and Kroger in the US; Tesco, Deutsche Telecom and Shop Direct Group in Europe.

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