There is inherent power in data. If used correctly data can allow you to make informed decisions about your business or asset, so you can unlock even greater value for your organization. Analyzing your data can tell you where best to deploy your capital thus optimizing your spend, and provide real insights into ways you can increase your operational efficiency. In turn this can help you maximize revenue, and create a real and competitive operational edge over your peers.
Trust and confidence in organizational data and information is a crucial element to its successful use. Diligently maintaining the data quality fundamentals (accuracy, consistency, completeness, relevancy, timeliness and accessibility) within an organization’s data assets is the key enabler business operations need to sustain the efficiency and competitive advantage an effective data improvement program can provide.
Learning to trust your data
Having a world class technical and software capability is of no use, if the data used to create the information is unreliable, or users cannot find or create the information they require. Having the right data and information available for users, when and where they need it, is vital for any organization to operate safely, efficiently and successfully.
To successfully improve an organization’s data and information quality requires taking an approach focused on people, processes and technology, combined with expert knowledge and strong analytics capabilities. This approach should also be aligned with a carefully planned change management program, designed to manage cross functional organizational issues and most importantly, manage the politics which can limit or even derail a successful long-term solution.
The approach to any data and information improvement program must be well structured, with the execution methodology based on a strong business case which clearly defines the organization’s data and information requirements.
Meeting user needs
The definition of data and information requirements should be based on operational actions and/or business decisions, supported by two key inputs from the data and information users across the business. You need to understand why they require this information, and then, when they get the information they need (regardless of its form), what it will they be doing with it.
You may be thinking why ask the users? The answer is to consider data and information management as an operational business issue. It is the information users within the organization who have the deepest understanding of the operating business requirements. They also have the keenest understanding of the data and information use cases, hierarchies and the business rules which represent them.
It is only after the operational, business and information user’s requirements are clearly understood, that a clearly defined data and information requirements program can be constructed. The amount of direct dialogue required between the data and information users, and those engaged to analyze and define the operational and business information requirements, should never be underestimated. It is this direct dialogue which will ensure the users and consumer of the data and information are properly recognized, and their respective actions, decisions and use cases are correctly detailed.
Realizing the value of an improvement program
The ongoing progress and success of an improvement program should be measured against the initial business case and information end user sentiment. This will ensure all realized savings can be captured, measured, and the program’s value to the organization correctly determined. This is done on the basis of a clear rationale linked to the business case, information users, and the drivers of the improvement program.
Attempting a one-off, ‘big bang’ improvement program is rarely successful because any data improved is often out of date by the time it is deployed. This neutralizes any business value which would have been created. Our experience has proven, adopting a structured phased-in approach, focused on measurable business value creation, is the most successful approach. Improvement programs need to conclude with the implementation of an ongoing maintenance program to ensure the improved data delivered to information users remains clean, reliable, and of the highest quality.
The benefit of adopting a structured phased-in approach is the creation of immediate and measurable value by directly targeting the most critical data and information. This assists the organization to quickly build capability and use the improved data and information to reduce waste, effectively deploy capital, and improve operational efficiency to increase revenue and maintain competitive advantage.
Depending on the length and type of the improvement program undertaken, organizations should begin to realize the value created quite quickly, enabling the majority of the return on investment payback within 12 to 18 months or even less. This highlights how well thought out and structured data and information improvement programs can have a real impact on your businesses bottom line.