Data is NOT a service desk. Transitioning Data Teams to Strategic Partners

Service Desk Blues…

One of the most common gripes I hear from clients in my coaching practice is that they are overwhelmed by ad hoc data requests from the across the business.

Just yesterday this very thing came up with a client I’ve had for a while now. Over 70% of his job as the Head of Data and most senior data stakeholder is literally picking up tickets. 🤮

Its 100% of the time for his directs.

Like many data functions, they operate a ticket-based data request system whereby business stakeholders submit requests for various data/reports.

Sounds familiar right?

What if I told you, this approach was actually counter productive to your organisation’s ability to succeed with data, while at the same time, killing your data leadership career ambitions?

Now iIm not suggesting, you straight up cold turkey stop accepting tickets - you’d be looking for a new job in a split second - but there are ways to minimise this and take back control.

“If I get another data request….”

We weren’t built for this (data teams, that is)

Emerging tech in the data space is making insane waves. AI and no-code tools are fundamentally altering the landscape forever. Much of the responsibility for capitalising on this is falling to data teams.

Your role in organisations is now more crucial than ever.

Yet, many teams find themselves stuck in the perception of being a mere service desk for data requests, rather than strategic partners driving business initiatives forward.

So, how can data leaders lead the charge in shifting this perception and positioning their teams as indispensable partners in strategic endeavours?

Well, that’s why we’re here! Let’s find out ⬇️

👨🏻‍💼 Align With Business Objectives:

Start by understanding the broader business goals and aligning data initiatives with these objectives. Spend time with domain heads and get to know their area of the business as best you can. Go for coffees, schedule 1:1s, and pick their brains (figuratively, of course). 🧠

By demonstrating a clear connection between data efforts and business outcomes, your team will naturally be seen as valuable contributors to strategic success.

📊 Provide Proactive Insights

Don't sit around waiting for requests to come in! Anticipate the needs of stakeholders and proactively deliver insights that are relevant and actionable.

You know the data better than they do, so why do we let them describe what they need from the data? Doesn’t make any sense!

Data people are better placed to ask the questions and provide (proactive) solutions and insights.

🤝 Collaborative Problem Solving (this is key)

We have to position our teams as collaborative problem solvers. By engaging with stakeholders across departments we come to understand their challenges and can actively participate in problem-solving discussions.

By showing a willingness and ability to contribute beyond basic data requests, your team can establish itself as a trusted partner in driving business initiatives forward. 🤘

💵 Learn to Communicate Value

Now you might think I’m about to say: show them on the graph where the money is coming from.

You’d be wrong.

I’m talking about communicating the value of YOUR data team!

Don’t be scared to tell stakeholder just how sh*t hot your team is at helping them generate value.

Use storytelling techniques to illustrate how data insights have directly contributed to business successes or mitigated risks. By highlighting concrete examples of impact, you can reinforce the perception of your team as strategic partners.

🛠 Invest In Skills Development

Teach your team about strategy - or get someone in to do it. (book reco)

Continuing investing in their data talents while at the same time exposing them to business concepts and communication challenges.

Get them to stand in front of stakeholders to present insights and become solid communicators.

A well-rounded team with diverse skills is better positioned to serve as valuable partners when it comes to tackling strategic initiatives.

I know these activities are not easy, but that is why it is called leadership. It’s on you to take the initiative and lead the business (not just your team) to the promised land.

If you’re just like my clients and have had enough of being data monkey for the business, test out these strategies and see where you land.

I mean, at the end of the day, who wants to pick up data tickets anyway?

When you’re ready, I’d love to help you solve the challenges you’re facing.

I provide 1:1 Data Leadership Career coaching to data leaders like you all over the world. The programs are flexible and 100% customised to your needs and areas of focus.

Check out what Sofia in the USA had to say:

“I highly recommend Tris as a data leadership coach. His professionalism and personalized approach to developing data strategies ensured that my unique needs as a multicultural strategist and my challenges were always addressed effectively. His clear and insightful communication style provided me with the tools I needed to implement strategies with confidence. Tris has been instrumental in guiding me towards achieving my professional goals, and I wholeheartedly give him an outstanding rating.”

If you’d like a free 1:1 intro call to discuss, you can book me right here.