Data and Information – Assets to Be Managed

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Following is an excerpt from Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™, 2nd Ed. (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2021) by Danette McGilvray.

What can we do to ensure the quality of the data on which our world depends? One of the first steps is to recognize that data and information are vital assets to be managed as intentionally as other assets. As assets, data and information have value and are used by an organization to make profits. As resources, data and information are essential to performing business processes and achieving organizational objectives. Historically, organizations understand that people and money are assets with value and must be managed to be successful. Information, however, is often seen only as a byproduct of technology, with lip service paid to the data while actions focus only on technology. Let’s do some comparisons.

Managing Information vs. Managing Money

Every organization manages its money, often through a dedicated Finance department, with roles such as chief financial officers, controllers, accountants, and bookkeepers. Each role helps to manage financial assets, and no one would consider running their company without them. But when it comes to information, how many people know those with specialized skills to manage data quality even exist?

Everyone knows finance-related roles must be budgeted for and people hired. No one expects the person who supports the financial software to set the chart of accounts. So why should an organization resist the idea of hiring professionals whose expertise is centered on data? Most people know accountants are necessary and understand generally what they do. In the same way, I hope that in my lifetime most people will generally know what data professionals do and no organization would think of running the enterprise without their specialized expertise.

Managing Information vs. Managing People

Every organization has to manage its people. The Human Resources department oversees this process, but many roles are involved. When managers hire people and offer contracts, they must stay within the parameters of the job classes, job roles, titles and compensation guidelines set by the central Human Resources department. Everyone understands that a line manager does not have the authority to negotiate benefits packages on behalf of the whole company. Yet when it comes to information, how often do managers create their own databases or purchase external data without considering what company- wide information resources already exist to fill their needs? Is that wise management of information assets? Similarly, every person who creates data, updates data, deletes data, or uses data in the course of their job (just about everyone) affects the data. Yet how many of them understand the impact they have on this important asset called information? Are we really managing our data and information assets if people do not understand how they affect them?

Management Systems for Data and Information

Similarities between managing human and financial resources and information resources are clear. In the details, people are managed differently than money and differently than data and information. An appropriate management system is required to get the most value from a particular resource or asset type. Management system refers to how an organization manages the many interrelated parts of its business such as processes, roles, how people interact with each other, strategy, culture, and “how things get done.” We also need what Tom Redman (2008) calls a management system for data. Data and information quality management is an essential component of data management.

Managers and executives must lead the way by investing in data quality – to ensure data is properly managed, with enough money, time, and the right number of skilled people involved. Individual contributors can help others to understand the value of information assets and do their part to manage them appropriately.

Join Danette to learn about the fundamentals necessary to managing data assets by attending; Ten Steps to Quality Data. This 3-day virtual course will take place from 15-17 June 2022 and 30 November – 2 December 2022. To book your place visit:

Watch Danette talk about the importance of data quality

Bio: An internationally respected expert, Danette McGilvray is known for her Ten Steps™ approach, used by multiple industries as a proven method for increasing the value of data through quality and governance. It applies to operational processes and also to focused initiatives such as security, analytics, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, data science, and compliance. Danette guides leaders and staff as they connect business strategy to practical steps for implementation. As president and principal of Granite Falls Consulting, Inc., Danette is committed to the effective use of technology and also to addressing the human aspect of data management (communication, change management, etc.)

Danette is the author of Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™, 2nd Ed. (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2021). The first edition (2008) is often described as a “classic” or noted as one of the “top ten” data management books. She is a co-author of “The Leader’s Data Manifesto”, and has overseen its translation into 20 languages (see

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