Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Data - who cares?

Your data is important to your organisation. Everyone is clear on that. Your comms strategy is going great. You have profiled all of your important data sources, built scorecards that highlight where the bad data is. You take your reports to key people and ask for resource to fix the data. The reply is "so what?"

If there are no accountable owners of the data, you are going to find it hard to actually fix things. The buck has to stop somewhere, and if things are going wrong, someone has to put their vanity projects on hold and get their hand in their pockets. So when the rest of the organisation is in flight, how do you go about assigning data owners - and making them face up to their responsibilities?

1. Go to the top
Get buy-in from the most senior people you can find. Use their names, whenever you experience inertia.

2. Categorise the 4 Cs
In all organisations, data is Created, Changed, Controlled (including retirement) and Consumed. Creators put data into systems. Changers make amendments, Controllers monitor data and perform mandatory work, like data retirement,  data quality and data governance. Consumers are people who use the data. They are important, as they are instrumental in setting standards for data quality. Very often a natural data owner will arise, as they will have oversight over all of these people and control their budgets.

3. Categorise your data on its nearness to source
Your data is either Primary, Secondary or Tertiary. Primary data sources are operational databases. Data goes directly into them. Secondary data sources are data marts that are created from primary data sources. They are for a specific purpose. Tertiary data sources are created from Secondary or other Tertiary data sources. Why is this important? Your initial focus must be on getting ownership of Primary data sources. Very often, people will obfuscate by drawing attention to secondary and tertiary use of primary data. Do not get sidetracked until all of your primary data is owned.

4. Categorise your data from a business perspective
Look at how your business is structured. Categorise your data so it can fall under the present organisational structure. Very often, data owners will arise from this process.

5. Record what the owners are accountable for
Very often this is missed. Document what they are accountable for. Have the accountabilities written into their role profile. Have their performance measured against these accountabilities.

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