Has lockdown exposed your data weaknesses?

Staff can often be very resourceful in making poor systems and processes work and to overcome data problems within an organisation. If people are based in a single office then they can call out questions like:

  • “Do you remember who did…”
  • “How did we solve….”
  • “Where is the information on….”
  • And so on

I used to give a similar answer about why many smaller organisations were less affected by poor data quality than they would be if they were larger – namely, being close to colleagues and able to verbally resolve issues acts as a ‘sticking plaster’ to overcome data problems.

If you have teams on different sites or in different rooms, then the ‘sticking plaster’ example above will certainly not work. However, even in large organisations, if a team is in the same working area, then they can still use this sticking plaster approach for their activities, however, anyone outside the team who is trying to access, understand and use their data, perhaps for strategic planning, is likely to encounter challenges. This is when data quality starts to make a difference to the success of an organisation.

Most office based staff, assuming they are not furloughed, are now working in some form of lockdown from their own homes. This means that issues arising from poor data, inconsistent data storage, ineffective data sharing etc. are likely to be significantly worse than the normal working environment last year (which now seems like a long time ago). This is especially true for any data, documents and records that exist only in physical form in filing cabinets, desk drawers and on shelves.

So, a few questions for you to consider about how your organisation has fared during lockdown:

  • Have your staff been able to easily access all the information needed to do their job?
  • Are there multiple versions of the same information, inconsistent information or poor quality data
  • How has productivity changed since starting lockdown? If productivity is lower, is this significantly so?
  • Do staff have to send lots of messages to each other and make numerous calls to complete activities that used to work smoothly when in the office?
  • Has customer satisfaction increased, decreased or stayed the same?

When we come out of lockdown and start to discover what the ‘new normal’ is in the economy, almost certainly only the most efficient and fittest businesses will survive and thrive.

Based on what you have learned during lockdown:

  • What weaknesses, problems and inefficiencies have become evident?
  • How easy is it for staff to find the information needed to do their jobs and is this information any good?
  • What changes are needed to improve quality, efficiency and profitability?
  • Will better data exploitation improve efficiency, profitability and quality?

There could be many areas that you are hoping to improve – for any data exploitation related ones, then we may be able to help. Relevant services include:

Data does not have to be difficult!

Online training now available

To enable us to continue to support our clients during the changes arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now offering online training at https://courses.dpadvantage.co.uk/.

Our popular ‘Managing Data Quality‘ course has been set up as four individual courses within an overall ‘bundle’:

  • The enterprise data asset – explanations of the basics of data quality, characteristics of enterprise data and the ways organisations tend to exploit this data
  • People and data – explanations about the generic behaviours people exhibit towards data using the Data Zoo concept, what drives these behaviours and how to improve data behaviours
  • ISO 8000-61 – A framework for data quality management – An explanation of the ISO 8000-61 process model and the individual processes within the model
  • Implementing data quality management – Steps to follow in order to develop a strategy to improve the approaches to data quality management in your organisation

All four courses are pragmatic and accessible with a clear focus on the people, behavioural and organisational aspects of data quality management. A free taster course is available here.

Further courses are being developed covering a range of business subjects.

Data quality is free

“Data quality is free. It’s not a gift, but it’s free. What costs money are the unquality things – all the actions that involve not getting data quality right the first time and all the actions to correct these data quality issues”
“Data quality is free. It’s not a gift, but it’s free. What costs money are the unquality things – all the actions that involve not getting data quality right the first time and all the actions to correct these data quality issues”

You may be wondering why you should bother improving your data quality or what the benefits of this activity may be. You may be wondering how to secure suitable resources and funding to deliver improvements to data quality. Read on to discover why ‘data quality is free’.


Continuity – the new data quality dimension

When talking about data quality, it is usual to consider different aspects or ‘dimensions’ of data quality – validity, completeness, uniqueness, consistency, timeliness and accuracy. These six dimensions were agreed as the most relevant and representative of data quality as part of work led by DAMA UK that I contributed to in 2013 and published in this White Paper.

Some recent work and discussions suggest that there may be another dimension to consider – continuity. This blog post explores things in a bit more detail.


Changing your data requirements

The world is changing, people are changing, organisations are changing, and this is no different for data requirements. An organisation needs to accept this and makes sure that change requirements are captured, impact assessed, acted upon and communicated. 

During my career I’ve seen many approaches to configuration changes or data change management. I have seen approaches in organisations range from being totally non-existent right through to exemplary practices. It’s true that the process takes resources i.e. time and effort; to firstly put Change Management in place, and then the effort to maintain the process as a business as usual activity. However, this time and effort will reap dividends by reducing rework, ambiguity, process failure, etc. and create a defined and agreed data specification that will meet the needs of the business in terms of information requirements.


Garbage In, Gospel Out

Most people should be familiar with the old adage “Garbage In, Garbage Out” intended to remind people that if your input data is poor, then any outputs will also be poor.

There is a variant of this that cropped up in a discussion recently “Garbage In, Gospel Out”. So what can this mean and does it apply to your organisation?