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Data Analyst Enablers Community: A co-leadership journey

How we broke silos to maximise data analytics potential and drive organisational success

By: Aingeru DuarteJavier RoldanOriol Vila and Roberta Manuela Coda

In 2023, Adevinta Spain embarked on a transformative journey to enhance collaboration and standardise practices across our diverse team of over 40 Data Analysts. This initiative was driven by the growing size and complexity of the data area, leading to the formation of the Data Analytics (DA) Enablers Community.

As co-leads we would like to share all the learnings, as well as the value and impact on Adevinta, we achieved thanks to the work carried out by the DA Enablers Community during 2023.

How it all started

At Adevinta Spain we had a complex personnel structure with Data Analysts spread across different teams and marketplaces.

The day-to-day life of a Data Analyst in Adevinta Spain is based on several fields of expertise. Among these, we identified four that needed to be prioritised:

  • Digital analytics: tagging, behavioural analytics etc.
  • Experimentation: assessing new features through controlled online experiments, often called A/B tests
  • Data Visualisation: foster a common culture, through collaboration, best practices and agreements around Tableau Server governance, for improved performance, security and end-user experience
  • Global analytics: here we have worked on initiatives across the analytics domain, for example, Data Products development for Analysts, definition of technical data debt etc.

For each of these fields, there is a lead whose mission is to help the analysts maximise delivered value.

Previously, each lead organised weekly meetings with representatives of the different Data Analytics teams to boost initiatives meant to reduce analysts’ pains and explore new opportunities. However, without an official time allocation, the representative found it almost impossible to work on those initiatives. As the analyst community grew in number, field leads realised it was increasingly difficult to scale to drive good practices, standardise ways of working and take advantage of our scale.

Nonetheless, the entire organisation recognised there was value in the initiatives that emerged from those spaces.

Working with the Data Directors, we looked at how other areas within the Company addressed similar situations. We found that areas such as Data Engineering, SW Development and others, relied on profiles called “Enablers.” These profiles have an official nature, with dedicated time allocation to promote initiatives that improve their discipline — precisely what we were looking for. This was when the seed of the DA Enablers Community was planted.

 

Community meeting
Community meeting

Finding our way through the challenges

As Discipline Leads, we identified three crucial areas requiring attention to ensure the DA Enablers Community’s success:

  1. Effective Communication: The diverse backgrounds and work practices of the enablers initially created communication barriers. To overcome this, we implemented a feedback-driven approach, utilising insights from quarterly surveys and monthly retrospectives. This iterative process enabled us to develop a customised Agile methodology that resonated with our unique community, ultimately promoting more efficient communication. Our refinement went beyond just session structuring; it included fine-tuning the tone and questions used in interactions with enablers, streamlining follow-up processes, and clarifying ownership responsibilities for each task.
  2. Sponsorship and Commitment: Ensuring the sustained engagement and commitment of the enablers was paramount. To achieve this, we established a clear agreement of sponsorship. Becoming an enabler meant a commitment to dedicate up to 20% of their work time, typically one full day per week, to community-related activities. This agreement, endorsed by managers, provided the enablers with the necessary time and resources to contribute effectively, fostering a culture of recognition and value for their efforts in strengthening the community.
  3. Prioritisation and Time Allocation: While the DA Enablers Community’s goal was to prioritise tasks from each discipline, we quickly realised that the community should have a single backlog. Maintaining a backlog for each field did not solve the issue of where to allocate our efforts for the next sprint and proved to be less effective. Additionally, we transitioned towards a more enabler-centric approach, giving more weight to the enablers and the co-leads by adopting a Servant Leadership approach. This shift meant that enablers were now actively involved in deciding which tasks took precedence, significantly enhancing their autonomy and sense of responsibility. Our role as co-leads evolved to focus more on facilitating these prioritisation sessions, guiding the enablers while respecting their insights and decisions. This approach not only streamlined our processes but also instilled a deeper sense of ownership and commitment among the enablers, leading to more engaged participation and higher-quality outcomes.

Learnings as co-leads

Building a community from scratch has been a challenging, yet enormously enriching, journey for us as co-leads:

First, we learnt how to leverage our different backgrounds to get to know each other and build trust. This process was then repeated within the entire group as a necessary prerequisite to create a foundation for a unified approach to our Community’s goals. Our shared understanding fostered collaboration, highlighting the importance of interpersonal connections as a catalyst for effective leadership.

Second, we needed to navigate organisational challenges. We understood the need to seek guidance from the DA Distributed Enablers who had a greater Agile methodology experience.. We also realised the importance of Servant Leadership to leverage the strengths of the entire team.

Last but not least, despite moments of doubt, our manager offered unwavering support, as the owner and sponsor of the initiative. She kept us on course, strengthened our trust in the Community and encouraged us to keep iterating for continuous improvement.

As co-leads, we’ve experienced the transformative power of trust, Servant Leadership and the importance of a strong sponsorship.

Community members having a chat on our office terrace in Barcelona
Community members having a chat on our office terrace in Barcelona

Delivering value to the organisation

In just one year, thanks to this Community, we have achieved notable achievements that have strengthened our Data Strategy and accelerated its implementation across all verticals and areas. It has helped break the silos and build a common ground for the entire Adevinta Analytics Community.

The initiatives carried out have raised the bar of the Data Analytics discipline within the company, in particular:

Data Debt Management: We have managed to elevate Data Debt to the category of Technical Debt, thus guaranteeing that data-related issues have their assigned space in the teams’ backlog, similar to Technical Debt.

Best Practices and Agreements: In the area of best practices, specific guidelines have been implemented and disseminated in several key areas. Agreements have also been stipulated for their implementation, in particular, for Product Development Experimentation as well as Tableau Server enablement and governance.

Improved Communication and Shared Culture: We have designed a structure that takes advantage of the scale of our organisation, establishing a channel that effectively conveys the Data Analysts’ feedback regarding emerging challenges. Thanks to the DA Distributed Enablers bridging their teams’ needs with all leads and vendors responsible for the Data Strategy implementation, we ensure communication flows in both directions.

  • Communicating and making shared decisions about crucial common issues, such as including changes to cookie consent and violations in the use of events in our tagging plan.
  • Coordinating common actions, like the Tableau Server pre and post-upgrade testing and related upskilling training.
  • Identifying and resolving gaps in the analytics area through bottom-up prioritisation. For example, the lack of alignment between the Data Strategy and its implementation, how to ensure data analysts get upskilled to gain increased autonomy in building data pipelines or how data analysts get involved in the strategic decisions that affect their work.

Final thoughts

Looking back, the journey to build the community has been beyond a doubt worthwhile so far. It has been a treasure trove of learning about leadership, collaboration and resilience. And it has also opened the path to a more efficient and scalable approach for Data Analytics in a fast-paced and constantly evolving environment. As Adevinta is headed towards a global verticalisation, we are looking forward to the new opportunities to come in 2024 for the DA Enablers Community to keep growing and bringing value to the company, possibly on a larger global scale.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to our manager and Data Director, Laura Lara for the continued support on this journey, to Enric Martínez Ibarra, Data Engineering Enabler Lead, for sharing his experience with us and for the invaluable help as representative of the CompaaS team, to the ex-members of the community Alex FraucaOlga VonsPol Hernandez, for being there in the early stages. Last but not least, to all DA Distributed enablers, Begoña MenchonMari Sanchez García,Idoia Martí i AlujaMireia Garcia SorribesOlaya Fernández MartínRoger TenSerafín Cruz Garrido for believing in this community and their amazing work to make it a reality!

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