As the amount of data organisations has continues to increase, regulation such as the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force and technology advances, 2017 is the year to define data journeys and put a strong data strategy in place.
It may be a daunting prospect, and some in your organisation may not see the need as much as others, so we have put together our top five tips to help those thinking about getting more from the data in their organisation.
- Define what you have, need and use data for
Creating a long-term vision for data with a short-term delivery plan will help to get the process off the ground. Understanding where the organisation is now, where it needs to be and what the steps are to get there will help pace the project.
The best starting point is to understand what data you have in your organisation and what you use it for. Every organisation has a mass of data, the questions are where does it come from, what is it, how is it managed, is it really needed and is it used to create an advantage?
- Find out how is data currently managed
If data is being stored across many spreadsheets and word and email or just about anywhere, it is a clear sign that the data is not being managed. It means that there is lots of resource being used, duplication of effort and there is data that is hidden from the wider organisation.
The cost of storing all this duplicated data, lack of sharing to improve organisational understanding and potential errors/lack of robust data alone will be significant.
- Get Executive level buy-in
As with all new projects, getting Executive buy-in is a key stage when it comes to investing in both time and money. After a view has been formed of where the organisation currently is, consider the following areas to develop your business case:
Save time, resource and money: Automating data collection, centralised aggregation and an on-demand visualisation/reporting process means that administration time is significantly reduced, as are data errors and duplication.
Get data instantly: Why wait months for analysis and manual reports, when data is available in seconds to help make informed decisions.
Stay legal: If EU citizen data is being stored, then by 2018 you have to abide by stricter data protection rules or risk significant fines (see our article on GDPR for more information).
Improve satisfaction/communication: Make it easier for those that provide data to encourage data input, and create easy to use reports for those that that need to use the data or to support internal/external communications.
Future-proof it: By creating a managed process with a long-term vision, you can show the stages from simple structuring of data into more advanced predictive software once the organisation has travelled along the first part of its data management journey.
- Identify software to deliver the best organisational benefit
It’s not always the most expensive software with infinite tools and tricks that is the best. It is about selecting the right software to help at this point of your data journey, and finding an expert provider that will support you in implementing it.
A system that is really easy to use by data contributors, users and administrators will help transition from manual processes. For example, if it is available online with a simple user experience, it means that it is flexible for people to use and makes it easier to view reports whilst being able to provide privacy and data ownership.
- Implement, communicate and improve
Once there’s a green light, develop a plan to implement the data strategy, working with teams and showing benefits. Keep communicating progress, and once implemented, celebrate and then start a continuous improvement process to identify how to make data even better for your organisation.