In my previous blogs I introduced the Data Management Maturity Staircase (above) and then the various maturity steps required to climb the staircase. In this blog we shall be looking at ways to make the changes.

Firstly, climbing the staircase is not directly about improving your data quality it involves increasing the maturity of your processes and general management of data. More mature, integrated and effective data processes will deliver greater quality data – the result of a higher maturity level.

Quality is not just about whether the data meets the requirements of a particular software application, but also that it is ‘correct and complete’ and meets organisational requirements. Improving data quality, and the way that data is managed, is an effective way to reduce risk in the organisation. Better data reduces operational risks, technology risks, regulatory risks etc. by improving decision making.

The data maturity journey

Starting the maturity journey involves accepting that change is needed and recognising the benefits that will arise. Once this realisation hits, then a strategy needs to be agreed that defines where you wish to be and how you will achieve this. It is likely that a series of changes and projects will need to be initiated. Most projects will cover processes and governance, but business change and improving people’s behaviours also need to be included. Communication is key and starts at the most senior level within an organisation. ‘Grass root’ processes and behaviours are unlikely to improve if leaders of the organisation do not demonstrate and promote these behaviours.

Improving data maturity generally does not require the implementation of expensive software systems. Changing the mindset of staff will change the way data is specified, collated, handled, used and made available to those that need it. Also, there may be some hard realisations about existing quality levels and wider awareness of these potentially negative facts before improvement can happen: ‘Owning up’ to the situation is a brave, but necessary, step.

Deciding priorities and where to target your resources to make improvements will be a sensible approach; just because it is broken does not make it a high priority…..Spending time and budget on improving data with a lesser value may use up valuable resources that could be better placed on higher value data projects. Therefore, understanding the elements with the most potential value will undoubtedly be a wiser strategy.

Assessing maturity

Example maturity assessment outputs

As data management consultants, we are often asked to help organisations understand where they are on their (data) journey. A way to get that understanding is by assessing the maturity of the organisation in comparison to the ISO 8000-61 areas. We have helped many organisations understand their maturity and plan their onward journey with the outputs of these assessments. Above is a typical chart plotting the assessed maturity outputs of each assessment area. Each coloured bar represents a different organisation to act as a comparator. From this knowledge an organisation can understand where it is, the start points on the journey, and begin to understand the areas that need to improve or realising where the desired destination is.

Are you interested where your organisation is on its data journey and where the route lies to data excellence? Feel free to get in contact.

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