A data strategy is a common reference of methods, services, architectures, usage patterns and procedures for acquiring, integrating, storing, securing, managing, monitoring, analyzing, consuming and operationalizing data.
Although it may seem like something that only big corporations need to be concerned with, data strategy is crucial to successfully running any kind of business, even the smallest ones.
It is “a must” that you have a solid data strategy. Being able to answer the questions of “where the data is coming from?” and “what needs to be kept?” will drive how the data is handled. A good data strategy must be driven by the overall business strategy. Therefore, the first step in any data strategy is to consider your organization’s strategic priorities and key business questions.
A data strategy ensures that all data initiatives follow a common method and structure that is repeatable. This uniformity enables efficient communication throughout the enterprise for rationalizing and defining all solution designs that leverage data in some manner.
To ensure that a data strategy incorporates the full scope necessary to provide enterprise-wide guidance, organizations should include the following components:
1. Implement a strategy which gives you the management information you need (GOALS/VISION AND RATIONALIZATION )
2. Semantics (a specific glossary of definitions for all terms and topics related to data, its handing and use)
2. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
3. Develop a Reporting Plan
4. Current State Documentation
5. Governance Model (Compliance, Change management, Workflow, etc.)
and most of all… ELIMINATE WASTE!
Throughout the process of identifying your businesses “actual needs“, you need to openly and honestly flag areas of inefficiencies in your existing process, at any stage.
Manually producing reports when they can be automated easily using Business Intelligence Tools, manually extracting data from multiple source systems, staff not willing to change or adapt to improve, only because they say that “we always did like this”.
Data and Reporting must be available to all the departments that actually need this kind of information. That’s why a centralized data architecture or a single Reporting is not always the best option. People of different departments and teams should be able also to analyze on their own the information in an easy way, without always waiting for the data reporting specialist and IT department. In addition to this, have a definition of what is presented in your reports should be accessible to all people who use the reports. It is important that everyone understands the data being presented to them so that the results are interpreted correctly.
Data and Reporting strategies are not an easy thing to get right, but when it happens, you’ll see such a positive difference in how data is used and valued within your organisation.
The collecting of data and the analysis of this data within your business can alert you of problems so that you can take action promptly and effectively. Being able to identify and address problems early is key to running a successful business. Likewise being able to identify what makes your business successful is just as important, if you can identify and focus on your strengths you are more likely to succeed and less likely to have problems.
Without an effective data and reporting strategy in place you are essentially flying blind as a business and this is never a comfortable position to be in.
At this point you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a Data Strategy?
- Do you know where your information is and if you have all the information you need across all the company?
- Do you have a single truth of your information?
- Do you align your Business Strategy with your Data Strategy?
The alignment of the Business Strategy with the Data Strategy is mandatory, otherwise it will be impossible to answer actual and future business needs.