A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by one of our partners, Prometheus, to participate in their annual user day. It was an opportunity to meet with customers from the health insurance industry, talk to them about the challenges they face, and learn how they are using analytics to solve business problems. I was also fortunate to sit in on two case study presentations that address a couple of the hot topics in analytics today – executive engagement and automation.
Peoplecare's data culture strategy
The first case study, delivered by Peoplecare’s Manager, Products and Business Analytics, Michael Karagorgovski, is a good example of building a data-driven culture.
Michael left the finance industry a few years ago to join Peoplecare, a not-for-profit private health insurance organisation based in Wollongong. On his arrival, he discovered a management group with a deep understanding of the local community and decades of experience in delivering member services. He also saw an opportunity to add to this expertise by making greater use of the organisation’s data in decision-making.
Convincing the executive team of data's value
Michael decided the best way to achieve this was by building dashboards for the executive team. It was a project with two main requirements. First was the technical side, which was quickly resolved with a little help from Prometheus and Yellowfin. Second was the issue of obtaining executive engagement. The management team was used to drawing on its own knowledge. If Michael wanted people to change habits and actually use the data, he was first going to have to convince them of its value.
Starting afresh with a single source of truth
He started by presenting his vision to the executives. After gaining approval, he created a new data warehouse. The idea was to start afresh with clean data and a single source of the truth. This would give him a better chance of generating trust in the numbers.
Understanding the business needs
To understand the reports people required, he consulted with every part of the organisation. He whittled away at wish lists in excess of 100 reports before arriving at five core dashboards containing the data executives most needed to see every day. Drill-down functionalities were designed to allow users to dive into detail down to member- or claim-specific level. Rules were put in place to highlight breaches of claims conditions and to highlight exception reports. At every step, Michael kept the executive team informed.
Getting everyone to actually use the data
Once the dashboards were deployed, he stepped up his campaign of engagement, encouraging managers to use the data to validate their decisions. This built yet more trust in the system, which led to users exploring the system.
Now, instead of simply looking to reinforce reinforcing their own beliefs, users are happy to accept that sometimes the data will challenge their preconceptions. They use Data Discovery to find their own ways to work with the analytics. Planning is becoming more proactive and more predictive, with data being used to understand membership trends, future service needs, and their likely impact on profitability. In short, the organisation is well on its way to building a data-driven culture.
Why Peoplecare succeeded where so many have failed
So what are key reasons Peoplecare has succeeded where many others struggle? Technically, the solution is well considered and it makes use of leading technologies. But beyond that, I think it’s the degree of executive engagement that has made the real difference.
Michael’s dashboard development project began by obtaining buy-in from the highest levels of the organisation. He spent time consulting with stakeholders to understand their real information needs. He made ease of use a prerequisite and ensured that the dashboards were designed for maximum engagement. He built trust with clean data and encouraged use in ways that helped to prove the value of the analytics.
Michael’s approach to analytics has been methodical, detailed, and patient. And Peoplecare is now reaping the benefits.