Reflections on the eve of the first presentation to a customer

by Damiana Spadafora

We keep on the “doing everything fast” trend here at the Data School. Week 4 and rather than being kept under¬†Andy‘s protective wings we have just been thrown into helping a client understanding better how their jobs are scheduled and what is the performance level across jobs, which is a problem they have been struggling with for over a year. We have no previous knowledge of this field, the datasets are far from exhaustive and we have 5 days, which also include training and waiting for the data to arrive, to solve this problem.

I don’t know what’s more surprising: that none of us has quit or that we actually have something sensible to show to the client. Like every other week so far, the learning journey has been incredible. Pablo has made a created a process chart which is nothing short of amazing:

2015-07-14

Seriously, I think it looks terrific! On my end, I have become a pro in predictive models and formulas in Alteryx and when it comes to all the other students by the end of tomorrow all those who have never worked on a consultancy project before will know the feeling of having helped a client with a real problem. Which brings me to my third point, how different consulting is when it is driven by data, rather than by assumptions.

I worked on management consulting projects before and they rely on the assumptions that you make as soon as you start the project; they are well reasoned assumptions, but they also drive the focus on the consulting activity, some time away from the customer’s real problem. Not to mention that if one of your assumptions is then proven wrong, the whole work will turn out to be biased, wrong or useless.

What happens now is that rather than second guessing myself all the time, I look at facts, numbers and charts. We tend to think we understand how something works just by creating a model in our head; but it is only when I see relations and measures in front of me, in bright colours and solid figures that I know how something works. And the beauty of it is that clients see exactly what I see. There isn’t a lot of arguing about what a well made bar chart could possibly mean. Finally, even if I don’t have any more contacts with the client, my work remains and it is as meaningful and easy to understand as if I was there to explain it.

So bye bye management consulting, welcome data-driven consulting!