When it comes to requesting new data or analytics from data scientists, a lot of managers don’t know the right questions to ask to get the information they need.

But if you don’t frame the request correctly, you might leave your analyst uncertain about how to proceed.

Here are three questions to think about:

What will you do with the data?

Be as specific as possible about what decisions you and the company will make based on the information. The data scientist, by hearing what you hope to achieve, can then collaborate with you to define the right set of questions to answer and better understand exactly what information to seek.

Is the data readily available?

Ask if someone has already collected the relevant data and performed analysis — either in your company or using public data. The ever-growing breadth of public data often provides easily accessible answers to common questions.

How do we get the data? 

Data scientists must decide between using data compiled by the company through the normal course of business, such as in observational studies, and collecting new data through experiments, which can be expensive. As part of your conversation with analysts, ask about the costs and benefits of these options.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

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