Essential Practice Skills for High-Impact Analytics Projects

Learn practical frameworks and systematic processes for addressing complex, real-world problems and how to facilitate effective action. This intensive Hands-On course is developed by the largest organization of analytics professionals, INFORMS


What You Will Learn

Participants will learn practical tools for integrating their analytical skills into real-world problem solving for businesses and other organizations. The course provides approaches that can be applied immediately to a wide variety of settings, whether within a participant's own organization or for an external client.

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Learn to link their subject-matter expertise to the challenges of messy, unstructured problems, organizational noise, and non-technical decision makers.
  • Understand best-practice techniques, including: problem statement summaries, issue trees, interview guides, work plans, sensitivity analysis, stress-testing recommendations, the "Pyramid Principle" of story logic, story-boarding, slide-craft, delivering presentations, and fielding Q&A.  

Course Outline

Day One: From Issues to Work

I. Defining the Problem

  • Interviewing the clients
  • Identifying the need for change
  • Framing the key question
  • Determining project scope
  • Surfacing the stakeholders' criteria for quality...and action

II. Structuring the Problem

  • Smart decomposition of complex problems
  • Creating issue trees
  • Applying the "80/20 rule"

III. Planning the Work

  • Tying issue trees to work product
  • Selecting the appropriate analyses
  • Identifying information needs
  • Creating manageable work plans
  • Setting work priorities

IV. Working the Plan

  • Managing complex work plans
  • Dealing with the dynamics of work groups and teams
  • Navigating client interactions
  • Bridging the gap between desired and available data
  • Making sense of messy, real-world data
  • Developing practical assumptions and approximations
  • Avoiding "analysis paralysis": Deciding when "enough is enough"

Day Two: From Insights to Action

V. Developing Insights and Recommendations

  • Validating and verifying results
  • Testing sensitivity to assumptions
  • Asking "so what?": Moving from data to insights to recommendations to plans
  • "Stress-testing" recommendations

VI. Making the Case

  • Analyzing the levers of persuasion
  • Selecting the appropriate vehicles and media for communication
  • Refining the argument structure: "The Pyramid Principle"
  • Using story boards to develop a strong story line
  • Crafting slides that support the story
  • Presenting results based on complex analytical work

VII. Create Value through Action

  • Driving organizational change
  • Quantifying impact of project
  • Celebrating success
  • Following-up and maintaining client relationships
  • Setting up the next project  


Patrick Noonan

Patrick S. Noonan, Emory University

Patrick S. Noonan is Professor in the Practice of Decision & Information Analysis and Associate Dean for Management Practice Initiatives at the Goizueta Business School of Emory University. From 1996-2000 he also served as Assistant Dean & Director of MBA Programs. He has been a Visiting Professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, and he has taught short courses at Aalto University (Helsinki), ESAN (Lima) and Universidad ORT (Montevideo). Noonan began his academic career on the faculty of the Harvard Business School, where he received his Ph.D. in Decision Sciences.

Noonan's traditional coursework at Emory - which includes decision modeling, game theory and data analysis - has earned the Distinguished Educator award 12 times and "Last Lecture" speaker role six times. In 2001 he received the Adler Prize for Teaching Excellence. He has been honored by inclusion in Emory's "Great Teacher Lecture Series" and earned the Keough Award for Excellence. Recently he has taken on leadership of Emory's "Management Practice" curriculum, which combines experiential learning, classroom instruction and coaching on the "craft" skills of structured problem-solving, effective teamwork, and persuasive communication.

His experience with the management consulting profession spans almost 30 years, starting in the New York office of McKinsey & Company. He co-founded Planning Technologies Group, whose innovative work in strategic planning and information technology earned a place in the "100 Leading Management Consulting Firms" compiled by Consultants News. Noonan's consulting and executive education clients have included Microsoft, Bertelsmann, NewsCorp, The New York Daily News, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merrill Lynch, the Centers for Disease Control, Sea-Land, Accenture, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Economics Institute, Johns Hopkins University and Greenpeace.

A member of INFORMS for almost 25 years, Noonan has presented on research and pedagogy more than two dozen times at INFORMS conferences, and he has played leadership and major service roles in the Decision Analysis Society, INFORM-ED, SPRIG, the Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium, and INFORMS Transactions on Education.

Noonan also holds a B.S. in Engineering & Applied Science and an MBA, both from Yale University.

Dr. E. Andrew (Andy) Boyd, Texas A&M, University of Houston, and Houston Public Media Andy Boyd

Andy Boyd is former Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President at PROS, where he directed over 30 analytics professionals. He has worked with management, practitioners, and analytics professionals at dozens of Fortune 500 companies that span the spectrum of analytical sophistication. During his 11 years at PROS he honed skills necessary for bridging the gap between individuals with differing levels of experience with analytics.

Dr. Boyd currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, and in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Houston. He held a tenured faculty position at Texas A&M prior to joining PROS in 1997. He is also a scheduled contributor to the Engines of Our Ingenuity, a nationally syndicated program produced by Houston's National Public Radio affiliate, KUHF, part of Houston Public Media.

Dr. Boyd has over 25 scholarly publication to his credit, has held numerous research grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Federal Aviation Administration, and has written several extended technical articles and book chapters. He has also written extensively for non-technical audiences, including some 300 essays for radio.

Dr. Boyd has been a member of INFORMS for over twenty-five years and was elected an INFORMS Fellow in 2007. In 2011 and 2013 he was elected to serve as Vice President of Marketing, Communication, and Outreach for INFORMS. Dr. Boyd received his A.B. with Honors at Oberlin College with majors in mathematics and economics in 1981, and his Ph.D. in Operations Research from MIT in 1987.  


Members - $1,299
Non-members - $1,499
*Discounts available for 3 or more from the same organization.

 Course Dates and Locations

Seattle Pacific University
April 5-6 2017
For more details, contact Bill Griffin.


Cancellations - cancellations must be in writing and received 21 days or more prior to the start of the course. A refund will be issued less a $100 processing fee. Cancellations less than 21 days prior to the start of the course will not be eligible for a refund.

Substitutions - if you cannot attend you may send a substitute without incurring a fee provided notice is given in writing (please include substitutes' name) at least 72 hours prior to the start of the course.

Transfers - you may transfer to an earlier or later course date provided the request is received in writing at least 14 days prior to the start date of the course originally booked. There will be a $50 rebooking fee.

Essential Practice Skills for Analytics Professionals

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Students say...

"Overall, I feel this course provides something for individuals who are just starting out in analytics (like myself), the seasoned analytics professional and everyone in between! I would definitely recommend it. The structure of the course is designed to show you how to utilize these tools in your current organization and will provide many opportunities for discussion. It is truly analytics in practice! "

- William Tyson, Norfolk Southern Corporation


"Irrespective of your level of experience, this is an excellent course that will improve your ability to target the right problems, effectively manage an analytics team, and successfully communicate to a client. Well done and value-added!"

- Dr. Chuck Noon, University of Tennessee, Knoxville