Let’s Play: Pilot Projects for Analytic Applications

Screenshot of Power PivotMany of our customers and prospects told us they are eager to have dashboards or deeper analyses, but don’t know where to start.  Getting started, while minimizing risk and investment, seemed overwhelming. So, we decided to do something about it. Instead of just copying Sheldon by offering soothing tea and a perfunctory, “There, there,” we decided to start offering pilot projects.

What is a pilot project? In 1999, Eli M. Snir and Lorin M. Hitt of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania wrote, “Vendor Screening in IT Contracting with a Pilot Project.”  They describe a pilot project this way:

[In] the “pilot” phase, the vendor builds a prototype of the desired software and the client analyzes the proposed solution. The performance of the pilot can be used to screen potential vendors and better assess their type. If the pilot is of sufficiently high quality, the client opts to complete the project with the chosen vendor; otherwise, the client cancels the project. 

For our customers, pilot projects help:

  • Validate hypotheses previously too time-consuming to test, now possible thanks to tools like Power Pivot that accelerate access to, and sharing of, information.
  • Identify obstacles (e.g., technological, cultural, political) that prevent deeper understanding of the organization.
  • Provide new insights into a specific issue or problem area.
  • Gain practical experience organizing data and maximizing the meaning of the information.
  • Understand how analytics can be incorporated into daily operations.
  • Mitigate risk by identifying risks early and developing strategies to lessen their effect or eliminate risk.
  • Save money (lots of it) by reducing the refactoring cycles needed to develop an accurate solution.
  • Use prototypes as the foundation for a longer-term solution.

Most importantly, pilot projects help ferret out requirements by giving the users something to play with, while validating that our partnership is a go.

Want to learn more about pilot projects? Check out our hot-off-the-virtual-press white paper, “Using Pilot Projects for Analytic Solutions.”  It’s a quick read, and you’ll be inspired to find ways to set up pilot projects not just for analytic solutions but possibly in other areas, too.


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