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Building a data management program: Simplified

When it comes to developing and implementing a data management strategy, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You have a monumental task in front of you. 

During my time with Experian, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many organizations about their data management practices. In every conversation, I’ve seen the same challenges in various shapes and sizes, but the businesses that have been most successful are the ones that simplify their data management process into terms everyone in the organization can understand. After all, data should be accessible to both IT and business users, right? So speaking a common language will help everyone understand the strategy.

When I speak with organizations, I like to describe building a data management strategy in terms of building a house. I like this analogy because building a house takes time and requires a methodical, phased approach. And, when done properly, the process can be done at scale. If you’re about to tackle a data management project, consider breaking it down into three simple, straightforward steps: analyze, improve, and control.

  1. Analyze: Assess the land and build your foundation

    Any good contractor will tell you that a sturdy house starts with a solid foundation, so it’s imperative to get this step right. First, you’ll need to survey the land to find the best place to set the foundation. Once you’ve assessed the land and cleared away any trees or shrubs, you can pour the foundation.

    The same process can be applied to your data management strategy. The first step is to define what data quality actually means for your business. For example, is quality based on completeness of records or is it the number of null values? By defining what quality means to your organization, you’ll be able to align the rest of your strategy to it.

    Once you have identified a data quality definition, you’re going to want to analyze your data to understand what you’re working with. This is most successfully done through a full-volume analysis of your database, which includes profiling and discovery. This will allow you to look at your entire database at once to get a sense of what’s there and what looks like it could be an issue.

  2. Improve: Construct the framework and run the utilities

    Once your plot is assessed and the foundation is poured, it’s time to begin building the framework of your home. This is when you’ll start to choose the shape and flow of the house. Are you going for a multi-level Victorian or a single-level ranch layout? The architecture you choose will affect materials and costs down the road. At this point, you’ll also need to run the electrical and plumbing throughout the frame.

    When you’re thinking about your data management program, this is when you’ll start to look at the people and processes that you can improve. In addition, you’ll start to build out rules and logic on how you want data to pass through your systems. This includes doing transformations and standardizations in order to monetize the data.

  3. Control: Add the finishing touches

    Now that you’ve built the frame of your house and installed the plumbing and electrical, you can start to put on the finishing touches that help to define your home. This includes putting on the roof, siding, drywall, windows, paint, and other final details that make your house habitable. This also includes installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that will ensure you pass inspections.

    In terms of your data management strategy, this is where you can start using data as an asset. Now that you’ve defined the criteria for quality and standardized the data coming through the system, you can begin to build dashboards and KPIs, as well as collect metrics to do things like reporting, tracking, and trending of data. For industries, such as finance, that deal with regulations, you can now ensure your organization’s data remains in compliance and mitigate risk to the business.

    At long last, your data management strategy is now a fully scalable program for the business.

Here at Experian, we know that starting a data management program can seem like a daunting task. Hopefully, by making the strategy relatable for others in your organization, you can be successful in your data program. 

We have the tools to help you build your data management strategy – let us be your contractor. 

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