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Making sense of business analytics in project selection and prioritisation: insights from the start-up trenches

Efpraxia D. Zamani (Information School, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Anastasia Griva (Lero – The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Konstantina Spanaki (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Paidi O'Raghallaigh (Cork University Business School, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
David Sammon (Cork University Business School, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 29 April 2021




The study aims to provide insights in the sensemaking process and the use of business analytics (BA) for project selection and prioritisation in start-up settings. A major focus is on the various ways start-ups can understand their data through the analytical process of sensemaking.


This is a comparative case study of two start-ups that use BA in their projects. The authors follow an interpretive approach and draw from the constructivist grounded theory method (GTM) for the purpose of data analysis, whereby the theory of sensemaking functions as the sensitising device that supports the interpretation of the data.


The key findings lie within the scope of project selection and prioritisation, where the sensemaking process is implicitly influenced by each start-up's strategy and business model. BA helps start-ups notice changes within their internal and external environment and focus their attention on the more critical questions along the lines of their processes, operations and business model. However, BA alone cannot support decision-making around less structured problems such as project selection and prioritisation, where intuitive judgement and personal opinion are still heavily used.


This study extends the research on BA applied in organisations as tools for business development. Specifically, the authors draw on the literature of BA tools in support of project management from multiple perspectives. The perspectives include but are not limited to project assessment and prioritisation. The authors view the decision-making process and the path from insight to value, as a sensemaking process, where data become part of the sensemaking roadmap and BA helps start-ups navigate the decision-making process.



Dr. Griva received funding for this research from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant 754489 and from the Science Foundation Ireland grant 13/RC/2094.


Zamani, E.D., Griva, A., Spanaki, K., O'Raghallaigh, P. and Sammon, D. (2021), "Making sense of business analytics in project selection and prioritisation: insights from the start-up trenches", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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