During the last two decades, data has become an invaluable resource for organizations of every size and sector. It has, in fact, become a critical asset. The information provided by data can lead to improved decision-making, greater operational efficiency, better products and services, accurate representations of clients and trends, reduced risk exposure and enhanced due diligence structures.
Despite the acknowledged benefits, studies across sectors demonstrate that most organizations are not using their data effectively. Indeed, research shows that more than 60% of the structured, or formatted, data that is collected is not applied to decision-making. Part of the problem is the amount of data gathered. As businesses have realized the value of data, the volume of data has grown. Moreover, it is often stored across multiple applications and in a variety of formats, from mailing list addresses compiled by the marketing department to payroll numbers collected by the accounting department. Additionally, older reference data is typically kept away from that which has been recently acquired. Another factor complicating efficient data management is the rules and regulations which govern the accessibility and use of certain types of client information. The employees handling the data may also be insufficiently trained in its proper application. It is possible to address these problems, however. The way to reaping the benefits that data can provide is developing a clear data management strategy.
Create Your Data Management Strategy
1. Evaluate Your Needs
The most important step towards creating a data strategy is to assess your organization’s needs and challenges in relation to data. Gather information by consulting stakeholders who use data regularly in carrying out their duties. Understanding the contexts in which it is created and used, will give you a better grasp of the current situation and the improvements that need to be made.
2. Survey Your Data
Once you have ascertained your organization’s data needs and challenges, you need to map the data currently contained in your system. At the end of this exercise, you should know, for example, whether it is primarily qualitative or quantitative and how and where it is stored. This information will help you to make better decisions in the next steps, investing in software and staff.
3. Choose the Correct Data Management Software
When choosing data management software, one of the most important considerations is interoperability. The platform must be able to access, aggregate and analyze different types of data. Programs like trifacta offer users the ability to access all of their data at once, revealing patterns in the data that would have otherwise gone unobserved. Another essential consideration is compatibility. It is vital that the analytical functions and complexity of the software you choose corresponds with your needs. Cyber security is also a concern. It is likely that the data you store contains sensitive information about your organization, your products and services and your clients, and you need to keep this safe. Finally, you should ensure that the company producing the software provides adequate client support and that they issue regular updates to the platform.
4. Invest in Staff
In addition to IT resources, you need human resources. Whether you hire new staff or offer further training to current employees, they need to have an understanding of not only their own roles, but also the overarching goals of data management in your organization. They will need to be able to align the data they collect with these goals. They will, of course, need a firm grasp of the software they will be using. Staff also play a vital role in making sure that the data entered into the system is correct and relevant. Identifying, removing or correcting duplicate, incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate data, or cleaning the data, is essential to producing the information your organization needs. Many platforms offer this service, but it is also important to train your staff to do this.
Considering the many challenges outlined above, creating a data management strategy for your organization may seem like a daunting prospect. There is no doubt that it requires hard work and time. However, if you follow the steps above you will be able to effectively overcome these obstacles and reap the numerous benefits that your data has to offer.