Stop Wasting Data -10 Tips

Stop Wasting Data – 10 Tips

Stop Wasting Data – 10 Tips

Do you have problems with data?  Do you or your team spend time correcting or fixing data?

The frustration is felt by many people because you know it could or should be better but feel powerless to do anything about it

You are not alone.  The frustration is felt by many people because you know it could or should be better but feel powerless to do anything about it.  Clean data should be there, available for use and consumable via a couple of clicks not assembled though manual processes, with missing data that does not support active questioning.

Often data issues are left to individual teams to solve locally.  The truth is that data issues span many parts of the organisation and these local solutions fail to account for the joined-up nature of the data.  For example, a team might assign a local customer numbering scheme just for their use in parallel to a companywide scheme.  It then later becomes difficult to match customer records.

All this activity increases operational cost, reduces efficiency, reduces job satisfaction and can even prevent the organisation performing certain types of analysis because it is too difficult. The lean management discipline has shown that many or most businesses carry an additional 40% operational cost penalty because of process problems, many of which are data related.

So why aren’t data issues resolved?

Many of the issues are at the lower operational level of the organisation and effectively invisible to senior management. Staff working with the data and embroiled in the problems don’t feel they have the authority to solve them, while senior management don’t think it is their responsibility to get engaged in the detail until the problems are escalated.

It does not need to be like this. 

Information governance provides the management structures required to address the myriad of data issues holding your company back.  Here are 10 ideas to get started:

  1. Get top management buy-in for success – make it a business initiative not just IT led
  2. Communicate widely to create a common cause for colleagues to buy-into
  3. Use surveys to identify issues
  4. Kill issues one at a time (looking for the quick wins alongside the strategic initiatives)
  5. Make sure there is a common language (use tools like a Business Glossary)
  6. Identify Data Owners and Data Stewards to take local ownership
  7. Use cross-functional workshops to review issues
  8. Review data flows and realign them as needed
  9. Initiate data quality measures to monitor improvements
  10. Maintain a small team/secretariat to act as champions and maintain focus
Compliance initiatives, such as GDPR for Data Protection, are often effectively specialist governance activities

The other question is how do we pay for this?  Remember there are many programmes and activities within the business that touch on information governance.  These may include renewal of IT systems, business change initiatives and marketing initiatives to monetise data.  Compliance initiatives, such as GDPR for Data Protection, are often effectively specialist governance activities.  All can be co-opted to contribute to improving data governance.

Studies have shown that organisations with mature information governance practices are more effective.  The results may show through in a piecemeal fashion to start with but as data quality grows, trust will grow, and the friction will reduce as data moves round the organisation more smoothly.  It may take time to see it but increasing information governance will bring down operational costs.