Insights

Writing an analytics job description

What goes into job requirements for analytics personnel?

The people of analytics is perhaps one of my favorite analytics topics. This favoritism -- combined with the fact that analytics personnel are definitely on the minds of utilities -- is why analytics personnel will be the topic for our November research publication. This article is meant to be a start for that deeper dive into analytics personnel by focusing in on one aspect of getting the right analytics personnel: job descriptions. To begin the conversation around this topic, let's look at a recent letter from a utility reader:

"In your conversations with different utilities do you have the opportunity to obtain job descriptions for positions in analytics departments? I am interested in seeing what the industry is developing and how they are defining their resource needs. Also, your columns are always hilarious, yet informative. Have you considered a career as a utility analytics comedian?"

Okay, okay, I added the last two lines in there, but the rest of quote is from an actual reader. We've definitely talked with utility companies about their analytics personnel needs, but, at this point, we haven't asked utilities to hand over their analytics job descriptions. So, I started poking around for analytics job descriptions. Searching for "analytics" on EnergyCentralJobs.com, for example, brings up 25 positions posted in the past 28 days, such as:

Technical Analyst IT Job

IT Solutions Architect, Senior Principal

Financial Analyst

If you peruse job findings such as these, you'll notice that few, if any, are pure analytics roles. However, the qualifications for such jobs that involve some sort of analytics start to provide insights into the job skills needed for analytics success. Furthermore, the variety of job descriptions I found remind me that within an "analytics department" there isn't just one type of analytics employee. Many different analytics-related employees will exist throughout an analytics department, as well as a utility company. Our upcoming research will dive deeper into job descriptions, but for now consider the multitude of factors that can shape analytics positions: 

Is analytics part of the job or the only job? There will be folks who are providing the analytics and then analysts who will be using those analytics to do their analysis. Phew, that was mouthful. Many of the job descriptions I've seen are for people who will use advanced analytics as part of their job, not necessarily those who will deploy the advanced analytics and provide the support for the people using them. How do those roles and job qualifications differ between the multiple types of folks involved with analytics?

Analytics hardware versus software versus services. Even for the folks providing the analytics capabilities, what role do they play in providing them? Consider the skills needed for building and maintaining analytics hardware versus software. Or with analytics services, someone who builds and maintains a databases would likely need different qualifications than someone who is developing advanced analytics applications. 

Engineering versus customer service versus business intelligence. Think about all the areas that analytics folks could work in, and the varying skill sets that may be needed to serve different parts of the utility company. Is utility-specific knowledge important? Think about engineering versus business intelligence. There could be significant differences in terms of utility knowledge required, or perhaps not.

Of course, before we can even get to writing job descriptions, it is important to develop the analytics strategies at your company and determine what team is needed to build the supporting analytics engine. In fact, there are so many different questions to consider around analytics teams and personnel, including what is the structure of the team and how do they work together? These questions, along with those about job descriptions, are some of the things we'll be covering in our upcoming research.

Thank you to our reader for the great question, and we're on it. If you have some job descriptions you've used for your analytics department, please pass them along. Also, if you have a question you'd like to pose to the thousands of utility analytics professionals who read us each week, please send it along to me, and you might just see it in the next Utility Analytics Weekly. 

As always, thanks for reading.

H. Christine Richards is the director of knowledge services for the Utility Analytics Institute, a division of Energy Central. You may reach her at crichards@energycentral.com.