Data Management – Brilliant Basics

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Recently I presented at the Noord Data & Analytics Dialogue UK conference. Fantastic event and great to be with my peers sharing ideas and discussing current challenges, predominantly around developing a data driven culture.

Liz Henderson, Head of Data Enablement, Telefonica UK Ltd
Liz spoke at the IRM UK Enterprise Data & Business Intelligence and Analytics Conference Europe 18-22 November 2019, London on the ‘
Data Strategy CDO Keynote Panel
This article was previously published here.

I delivered the opening presentation on “Getting the brilliant basics right to deliver value”. The feedback was that it was useful to validate against what they were doing in their organisation and a splendid one-pager showing all the key data management elements.

Therefore, I thought I would make this available to a wider audience via this month’s post.

 The 6 elements I believe will set the foundations for good data are:

  • Culture
  • Strategy
  • Governance
  • Operations
  • Quality
  • Value


Culture is the most importantly part of a successfully data programme. The goal for any organisation is to move to a culture which is data driven, creating deep organisational engagement and pull from employees in being involved, cultivating a sense of purpose in what they do and how they use data available to them, so that data can support operations and decision making, adding value to your organisation

A long time ago…Health & Safety was one person’s responsibility, its everyone’s responsibility now. The same goes for data. We all have a responsibility to ensure we value one of our greatest business assets.

I read recently that Airbnb have a vision to “empower every employee to make data informed decisions” – That is the type of culture we are aiming for.

Data Management Strategy

What is it you want to achieve?
What is the problem that you will solve?
How does your data strategy support the business strategy and objectives?
What will you gain from that investment?
What is your plan for the programme to deliver your strategy. Build a roadmap for delivery. This will help form the business case to gain approval to support the justification for funding your strategy.

A few other things to consider are:  

  • Obtain a C-suite sponsor, this is the person who will advocate about the work you plan to do and the benefits
  • Form of Steering Committee / Data Committee, who have the authority to make decisions to move actions forward and guide your programme
  • Organisational or operating structure – who will be involved and carry out the work need both in setting up the programme and carry out the work in business as usual mode
  • Communicate – without communications you won’t achieve a great culture. Define how will you keep the business updated on your progress, your success and how you will promote the quick wins that will help buy in for your greater goal

Data Governance

Ensures data is consistent and trustworthy, you want governance to become part of the DNA of the organisation.

Date Governance by Design and Default

Think about processes & policies needed to manage and control the data, if they have governance built into them along with the systems you use you do not need to think about it as it is always there governing what you do.

Make a register of your processes and policies, so you know what you have, who approved them, where they are stored and when they need to be next reviewed.

How will you monitor adoption of the polices and processes to ensure they are accepted consistently organisation wide?

Risk & regulation we have all been through the implementation of GDPR or are aware of how it impacts your data and processes.  What’s next?

CCPA – Californian Consumer Protection Act

Californian Consumer Protection Act, if you have any Californian residents in your database, compliance is required by Jan 2020.  Further US legislation on data protection is being considered, in light of how quickly the CCPA was formed.

Roles & Responsibilities – Who will be collecting or creating data, owning it, managing it through its lifecycle. Who can determine when it is removed from the database at end of life as part of your retention policy.

Common Language / Business Glossary – We want a consistent language across the business which enables understanding and clarity when interpreting data for decision making.

Data Operations

What is going to happen to your data day to day. What is the data flow through your business? Who can interact with it, what can they do to it? Think security and access to your data.

External data – If you need data you don’t have within the organisation how do you acquire it, how do you ensure it is accurate and trustable and you are not polluting your data lake?

Customer touch points – We all use apps, how do we know we can trust the data in them.  The same goes for your customers internally and externally, how do they know they can trust your data?

Are you collecting data at every touch point with your customers, what is their experience with you and their data in your systems?

Data Quality, Cleansing, Metrics

Effective data quality management requires data monitoring and cleansing.

I call this ICC – Identify, Cure and Care.

Identify your issues – Have a mechanism in place for reporting or finding them such as profiling.

Record and prioritise the issues for remediation.

Cure – Correct the data.

Care – To ensure the same issue does not occur again, what changes within the organisation do you need to make to remove or reduce the likelihood of the issue reoccurring. Is training or education needed to reduce the likelihood?

Value / KPI’s

How will you know if you are delivering value with your data programme of activities? Here are a few examples of what others are doing.

Look back to the original question or problem you were trying to solve in your strategy, what have you achieved, what have you put in place to solve or mitigate these issues reoccurring or to remove them; efficiencies, increased productivity and reduced costs?

A few other areas to consider for adding value are:

Inform decision making – Rigorous approaches to help employees make decisions in situations where data is plentiful such as recruitment and sales forecasting.

Understand your customers – Targeted marketing. Think Amazon and Netflix in how they display offerings that may be of interest to you.

Smarter products – Sensors in machines to reduce downtime. Showing when maintenance is needed. To products that automatically switch off when not in use such as taps and lights – Earth day is soon.

Improve productivity – Automatic stock order replenishment when the threshold is reached.

Direct revenue – Are you making money out of your data in any way, can you publish research or industry trends that your customers will be interested in on a subscription model?

None of this is new, there are plenty of organisations out there doing these types of things and many more ideas available via the internet.  The question is what value will you bring to your organisation through your data activities?

For those new to implementing a data programme, do not be daunted by the amount of work needed for your data journey.  Break it down into small chunks, think eating that elephant analogy or even an apple. 

We don’t and can’t do it all at once.

Liz has over 15 years experience, creating a data-driven culture for organisations, to enable monetisation of their data. From developing the vision, designing the strategy, providing strategic leadership and, advising and executing a broad range of corporate compliance and digital data transformations. With her passion for data governance she has solved problems which many organisations experience with duplicate, inconsistent and incomplete data, on multiple siloed platforms. Prior to her current role she has had experience in construction, manufacturing & distribution, retail, public sector, oil & gas and insurance, delivering Europe-wide programmes for example; Reducing regulatory compliance costs by 40%, Accelerating the start-up of new capital projects enabling top quartile performance and while leading a European graduate induction programme delivered revenue of $2m by expediting the deployment of new consultants. She has spent a number of years in the branded office products industry where she led the business to revolutionise the standards and governance for global product data and was an active member of the industry federation influencing the direction of the industry for data. When she is not governing data, she enjoys yoga, gardening and travelling, has a data blog, is a STEM ambassador, young persons and female peer mentor, a non-executive director for the charity Focus, who support the development of young people and trustee for a local community foundation.

Copyright Liz Henderson, Head of Data Enablement, Telefonica UK Ltd

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