High quality, comprehensible and consistent information, all in one place.
Have you ever attended meetings where numbers have been produced by multiple members all purporting to report on key business indicators or results? Frequently the numbers don’t match, and can even contradict each other. The rest of the meeting descends into arguments as to whose results are correct, and trying to reconcile data, rather than analysing, and more importantly, making decisions on the correct results.
More and more organisations are understanding the value and power of information, not only to be using this to make critical business decisions, but to disseminate quality data throughout the organisation.
In fact, some organisations are placing so much weight on quality information, that they are reporting this value on their balance sheet!
So how can you take advantage of the data your organisation is collecting, and more importantly, where do you start?
Let’s start by breaking down the components of Information Management:
The Data Warehouse
A Data Warehouse is a central repository of information sourced from multiple source/transactional systems. Information is then tied together across common dimensions (customer, chart of accounts etc) and then modelled to various business functions across the business.
These models (or subject areas) are structured for business context and use centrally controlled business definitions to ensure consistency is kept.
Typical examples of subject areas are:
These models are structured for query performance, so that those reports that used to take hours to generate now take seconds, and you have the ability to drill from highly aggregated data down to the transaction. Another key benefit of a Data Warehouse is the ability to hold historical values, vitally important for organisations today that are frequently restructuring or acquiring new business.
Data Warehouses have historically been given a bad name due to implementations that have far exceeded time and budget, and that once they have come online, have provided little value. This has changed dramatically with modern implementation techniques, whereby Data Warehouses are built subject-area by subject-area, incorporating the critical reporting with delivery. Not only does this de-risk the project, it provides a faster return on investment (typically a subject area build is 4-6 weeks).
As organisations increase their reliance on information, they are understanding like any asset that you need to take good care of it, regularly monitoring its health (data quality) and ensuring you are gathering the best information possible.
A common misconception about Data Governance is that technology can be used to solve this problem. Technology is only a small component, with most of the heavy lifting in delivering a quality Data Governance framework, being organisational change management – making sure you have the right process and strategies aligned to deal with the significant challenge of information gathering.
This Change Management involves setting up a Governance Committee to provide oversight and leadership, then disseminate control to appropriate Data Stewards who can make appropriate decisions.
A great Data Governance framework will define accountabilities in a manner that introduces checks and balances between business and technology teams, as well as between those who create/collect information, those who manage it, those who use it, and those who introduce standards and compliance requirements.
Master Data Management
Master Data is common data about customers, products, suppliers, materials, accounts etc, that is stored and replicated across IT systems. Master Data Management is the management of that common data across organisations IT systems.
A key business challenge as we become more heavily IT reliant, is the consistent use of information across IT platforms. An example of this is where an organisation may have multiple systems where critical entities can be created, this can directly lead to duplicates and worse, the same entity being created with different values. This then brings into sharp focus issues around regulatory compliance and inaccuracies being permeated throughout an organisation.
The use of Master Data Management tools looks to address this by “Mastering” the information in one place, then propagating that throughout the various source systems that use that data.
Starting on your Information Management Journey
This can often be very confusing and quite overwhelming for organisations, so much so, it can scare them into inertia. It is highly important that you begin by trying to understand where you want to end. Only by truly engaging key people in your organisation, to understand their information needs, can you then start to draw up a roadmap of how you are going to get there.
This roadmap becomes a critical “living” part of that journey, constantly prioritising business needs and delivering against them.
Contact Hamish Dwight today to discuss getting started on your roadmap.