The Importance of a Data Assessment within a Data Strategy Plan

Data, the fuel for any business intelligence (BI) effort, is growing at a substantial and unprecedented rate and has traditionally been managed and architected for transactional purposes and not for analysis.

Increasingly, exogenous datasets (those of external origin) are a vital aspect of business execution. Data from partners and suppliers, plus open data, all enrich the organization’s ability to derive new business value.

“Data is just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful” – Chip and Dan Heath, authors of “Made to Stick”

It is important to assess not only the data quality and integrity of each primary source system, but also to understand the data culture and what practices are in place for sharing, managing, and entering data. While the responsibility to blend, mine, refine, and distribute data resides with your BI team, the burden impacts your entire organization. Bad or insufficient data will starve processes and results. If a business unit is not successfully fueled, it will not sit idle instead, it will find a way through mini-data marts and unsanctioned reporting tools to perform its own BI. It should be a primary goal of your BI strategy to prevent these practices by allowing transparency, prioritizing needs, and communicating challenges early and often.

For many companies, a valuable exercise at this point in your Data Assessment is to articulate your data lifecycle, profile your data sources, assess your data architectures, and define data quality and data governance standards across the enterprise. This data clarity will help prepare you to establish a BI vision.

Data Assessments in Action

Kforce is a professional staffing and recruiting firm that specialized in connecting companies with top-notch technology, finance, and accounting human resources. With a desire to scale their business to support modern enterprise analytics, 3Cloud recommended a RapidRoadmap engagement, which assessed the company’s people, processes, technology, and data.

3Cloud and KForce interviewed key stakeholders to assess reporting capabilities in needs. The outputs of those interviews uncovered the need for Kforce to develop a Business Intelligence Steering Committee (BISC), whose mission was to promote the widespread usage of reporting dashboards, and analytics. With a new focus on the success of analytics initiatives, Kforce realized the urgent need to upgrade their enterprise data management systems following a custom data governance assessment. Within this assessment, 3Cloud guided Kforce on how to classify, organize, and communicate enterprise data.

Through the development of the BI Steering Committee, the data governance framework, and analytics assessment, vision, and roadmap, Kforce has built a strong foundation for modern analytics.