In this series of Blog posts I shall be introducing the ‘data management staircase’, what it means and the necessary journey over time to climb the steps to becoming ‘Excellent’.

Good decision making is based upon good data and is how data delivers value to organisations. How do you get good data to achieve those good decisions (and deliver value)? You could begin by asking yourself some simple questions:

  • How does data support your/ your teams’ role?
  • What data stores/ systems support you?
  • How good (or bad) is the data?
  • What are the impacts of poor data?
  • Do you have data stored in local spreadsheets?
  • Are there clear data standards?
  • Is data quality measured?
  • What are the impacts of poor data?
  • Is there a strategy for data?
  • Who ‘owns’ the systems?
  • Can you easily get changes made to systems?
  • How do people treat data?

A way of understanding the answers to the above is to review your organisation and determine how ‘mature’ (or good) your data management practices are. 

Maturity is built over time

If your data management practices are poor/ low maturity, then it is very likely that the quality of your data will reflect this. Data is very likely to be incomplete, inconsistent, invalid or just plain wrong. Improving poor data is not an overnight fix – data cleansing/ improvement projects can take much time and effort. Without fixing the underlying causes of data problems, the data cleansing exercise will, over time, ‘unfix’ itself and waste the time/money spent originally cleansing the data.

Achieving good data management is a journey, which is where the maturity staircase comes in. There are many activities that need to be in place to reach the excellent ‘step’. The first step is recognising that things could and should be better. Once you realise your organisation is not successfully exploiting its data you should hopefully be at step 1 on the staircase. Below is a typical journey to achieving excellence:-

Reaching the top (Step 5) is like a journey that will take considerable effort and time. Improving maturity allows you to reap the rewards of excellent data and improve decision making. It is important to appreciate that you can’t move straight from Innocent to Excellent. Increasing maturity levels means putting in place certain governance, processes and standards usually through a data strategy.

Engaging an external party to undertake a maturity assessment ensures that a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ can spot issues that people closer to the process may have got used to. ISO 8000-61 standard that defines a process reference model for data quality management. DPA have developed a maturity assessment tool based on this standard to provide an objective assessment of the data management maturity of an organisation.

DPA have successfully helped many organisations become familiar with ‘which step they are on’ and where they are on the maturity journey. The use of assessment outputs and recommendations have helped organisations to become more mature in their approach. This in turn has improved the underpinning activities that lead to good decision making. If you want to find out how we can support you on this journey, feel free to get in contact..

The next blog in this series will look at the various steps needed to become more mature with your data managemant capabilities.

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