In an era where data drives decisions, the ability to synthesize information and extract actionable insights can mean the difference between thriving and merely surviving for businesses. Data teams and the C-suite executives charting the course of the organization must work in concert for success. But there’s an art to this partnership that not all manage to master—one that goes beyond spreadsheets, analytics, and technical prowess.
In this episode of Coffee with Coalesce, Coalesce co-founders Armon Petrossian and Satish Jayanthi sit down with RuffleButts CFO Matthew Tischler and Resultant National Sales Director Michael Tantrum to discuss strategies for establishing productive data dialogues between data teams and the C-suite.
How a data team’s fast fails show quick wins
As Michael Tantrum astutely observes, “If we get it wrong, data warehouse projects can be the iceberg on which CIO careers die.” This metaphor underscores the high stakes involved in managing and executing data strategies—an endeavor fraught with as much potential for transformation as risk.
So, how does one navigate these treacherous waters to reach the place where data teams understand the C-suite’s vision and expectations and the C-suite understands how the data teams’ work will get them there?
By failing fast.
A methodical, dynamic approach characterized by rapid prototyping and early iteration embraces the “fail-fast” philosophy en route to discovering an organization’s true data requirements.
Data and all the tools that touch it evolve far too quickly to ever be perfectly complete, and with many data initiatives—especially data warehouses—business users can’t clearly define what they’ll need from a tool until they can interact with the first iteration of its implementation. Testing pilot use cases leads to more questions they’ll want to ask of their data and more functions they need the tool to execute. Iterating quickly to get them to that point brings both fast fails and quick wins.
Demonstrate repeatable success and educate the C-suite about the process
C-suite executives aren’t looking for one-off triumphs. They require sustainable KPIs—tools that can track growth, efficiency, and performance consistently. Data initiatives must demonstrate early success that can be repeated, adjusted, and scaled.
Tischler and Tantrum emphasize that as prototypes evolve, so should understanding and requirements. If the C-suite doesn’t know enough about the processes data teams go through to get information, they also don’t know what’s required when they change their minds about what they want to see. They may mistakenly believe everything they need can be executed in Excel in very little time and not fully understand the benefits of modernized data tools and how much farther they can take the organization in a shorter timeframe.
Data teams need strong relationships and good communication with leadership to open the floor to discuss not just quantitative capabilities but qualitative understanding, expandability, and the limitations that come with less sophisticated systems. Data initiatives aren’t simply directed at solving today’s problems, they strategize for the future.
When the provenance of data and the impact of analysis are clear and demonstrable, the relationship between data teams and business users strengthens, fostering an environment of trust and collaboration.