More and more businesses are realising that data holds the key to success. The ability to collect, interpret and act upon data insights leads to better-informed and faster decisions, removing the uncertainty and doubt that typically arises when working on experience and judgement alone.
Whilst knowing what data to gather is one challenge, managing that data so that becomes business intelligence and useful in everyday business operations, is quite another. That’s why it’s important to think ahead when you’re planning your data management strategy. It pays to take a step back and think about the issue from all angles – areas you’ll need to define include:
- Who needs what information?
- How will they access it and how does it fit into your workflows?
- How will it be presented so that it’s easy to interpret?
- How will updates be managed?
- How will security be addressed?
The reason that we spend time getting to know your business at the outset is that we can often identify opportunities to gather data that can help to create efficiencies and/or competitive advantage. It’s the combination of your business and industry knowledge with our expertise in data management that makes all the difference.
A data audit need not be a time-consuming or complex task. Simply looking at what data you currently collect and then exploring various ‘what if’ scenarios can be a great place to start. As part of this, analyse how information flows through your business (this will also help to illuminate any security issues you may need to address).
Once you know what information you need, it’s then possible to design the best user experience so your teams can access and interpret data to make better decisions, without having to work too hard to match data sets and work out what they mean. Well designed data dashboards are more difficult that you might think – though made easier by engaging the people who will be using your systems in the design process.
In addition, you may need to consider how documentation is accessed and stored and how records are updated.
In our experience, establishing a lead role on the subject of data management can make an enormous difference. Having one individual (or more, depending on the scale of your operation) who understands your dataset inside-out, pays dividends in enabling your business to utilise data effectively.
Not only can they keep pace of data gathering, system updates and usability requirements as your business grows, but they can also take responsibility for security and adherence to policies you may need around data use, especially if a number of teams and individuals are going to have access to it. We’re all well aware of the risks posed by data breaches and cyber security threats as well as the operational impact of loss of access to important data and systems. Businesses that use data successfully have resilience in these areas.
Of course, whether you’re hiring someone to take care of your data management strategy, or bolting it onto an existing role, the issue of budget needs to be addressed. Couple your people costs with the investments you may need to make in creating and maintaining systems and software licenses so you have a full picture before you begin. Any investment in this area must, of course, have a strong business case.
Fortunately, for most businesses, you don’t have to look too far to see the advantages of a good data management strategy in terms of time-saving, cost-saving, competitive advantage and scalability, to name but a few.
We have more than 20 years of experience in helping businesses to harness the power of data. To explore how we can help your organisation, please get in touch.