An effective data management strategy is good for your business. As organizations today rely on their data to help drive business initiatives, the quality of that information is growing increasingly important. But you probably already knew that. It turns out that data professionals spend a lot of time talking about data in terms of its accuracy and a lot less time talking about its accessibility and readiness. While the importance of accurate data is undeniable, organizations should understand that having accurate data is only a benefit if you can access that information when it’s needed.
Ensuring that data is accurate and ready-to-use at all times requires a robust data management and governance program. Yet, that’s where we see many organizations struggle. Building an effective data management program requires a fair amount of coordination between IT and the business, as well as ongoing support from business leadership. If you’re embarking on a data management program at your organization, there are some simple steps you can follow to get started. Here are four:
- Assess your business needs
The first step in building a successful data management program is to understand the existing challenges and business needs around your data. And that means speaking to stakeholders from across the business. By gathering input from the individuals who interact with data regularly, such as those in finance or marketing, you can understand the context under which information is created and how it is used. Without this necessary context, any effort to transform, migrate, or integrate data will be much less effective.
- Analyze your data landscape
Once you’ve identified the current challenges with your data and how business users intend to use it, you can begin to build your data management strategy. The next step is to perform profiling and discovery on your data sets to understand the various types of information your system contains (such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates, etc.) and to verify the completeness and uniqueness of those fields. Of course, you may find that even within your identified fields you can have multiple formats that will need to be standardized.
- Align resources and investment
With a clear view of the information contained in your systems, you can begin to cleanse and transform the data to meet your organization’s needs. This means bringing together business users and IT to decide what those transformation rules should look like and how they should be implemented. By documenting these defined practices and policies for managing your data, you can ensure they are repeatable and relevant across your organization. In addition, you will want to take the opportunity to assign data stewards to oversee that the strategy is implemented consistently within their respective areas.
- Achieve data management objectives
Now that you have created business-centric procedures for handling data and delegated responsibilities to individual stakeholders, you have the workings of a successful data management strategy. But the program shouldn’t stop there. You’ll want to appoint a governance council or steering committee to ensure your program stays on track. In addition, you’ll want to invest in data monitoring tools to track changes in things like data quality. By utilizing visual techniques such as dashboards and reports, you can easily share updates on your program with colleagues or management to demonstrate the success of your project and prove an ROI to business leadership.
These four steps should provide you with a high-level roadmap for building a successful program of your own. Remember, data management is a collaborative effort, and securing the buy-in and support from across the business is an essential first step. Yet, it is often the most overlooked. By tailoring your data management program to meet the needs of your business users, you’ll empower them to make better data-driven decisions.
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