The Value of Defining Metrics in Analytics Projects (VIDEO)

Because no two organizations are the same and there really is no universal, one-size-fits-all solution, Booz Allen uses a framework it calls "ADAPT+C" to address customers' most critical analytics problems with a "best-fit" philosophy. In a presentation at Data Summit 2019, Booz Allen Hamilton principal Shelly Brown discussed the importance of defining baseline and goal metrics, both in prioritizing projects and proving their value.

"As we briefed senior leadership on a couple of these specific pilot projects that we wanted to do, they said, 'Shelly, this looks like a Gantt chart that's gonna cost me a lot of money," said Brown. But, she noted, "The way I want you to think about it is you are either increasing revenue, or you're actually putting money back into the business because you're creating efficiencies through some of this automation." The question, she said, is, "How do you really, ultimately, think about the metrics and the return on investment specifically for these couple of projects that you specifically want to do, and, ultimately, how does that advance us against the set of objectives and parameters that we really want to put in place to become more data-driven overall?"

DBTA’s next Data Summit conference will be held May 19-20, 2020, in Boston, with pre-conference workshops on Monday, May 18.

In thinking about setting up the specific things that should be measured, and making sure that when a change is made and a new process is implemented, that it is possible to ultimately measure those metrics again on the back end and see if it was necessary to tweak the change to be able to ultimately get to the goal for the project.

"This is something we're still working on as an organization. I'm sure many of you might be in that same stage, as well," she said. "But what has been successful in explaining it to people is to really put a point on what it looks like from an hours and cost perspective. One of the processes that we are in the process of changing right now is an approval process that each and every one of our staff does on a daily basis, and that our managers do twice a month. And it doesn't take a lot of time, but it takes minutes to a half hour's worth of time out of everybody's day when we need to complete these approvals."

By adding automation in and actually doing almost a stop-timer on how long it takes people to do those small bits of work, Booz Allen was actually able to multiply that out "and aggregate it to be hundreds of thousands of hours' worth of our employees' time, and essentially millions of dollars that we're spending a year on a kind of administrative project," she said. "Once folks saw those numbers and knew that we had used a conservative approach to get there and to talk about it, they were much more comfortable with where we were going, what the overall benefit of that particular project was, and why we should advance it moving forward."

Many presenters have made their slide decks available on the Data Summit 2019 website at

To view the full presentation, "ADAPT+C: A Framework for Building a Data-Driven Organization," go to