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Getting management buy-in for your Data Management initiative.

Even during the best economic times it can be difficult to persuade those who hold the purse strings to allocate budget to projects that appear to have no immediate value.

Furthermore, with caution in the air and organisations restricting their spending, it is even harder to convince budget holders to invest in Data Management initiatives.

How can you build a business case that is concise, beneficial and clearly shows a valuable return on investment?

Whilst not impossible, it can be challenging. There are some obvious, and less obvious, tips and benefits worth elaborating on.

What is Data Management?

Simply put, it is the name given to processes and applications, as well as the people, used to manage your organisation’s data.

It can be split into several specialist areas (listed below), which when pulled into a single strategy, will enable your organisation achieve “good” data.

The key areas of Data Management include:

  • Data Quality
  • Data Governance
  • Data Integration
  • Business Intelligence
  • Performance Management

These intrinsically linked activities underpin your business case for implementing a Data Management Strategy, because they will lead to cost reductions and better decision-making.

For example, without data quality you will have inaccurate, inconsistent and ultimately fairly inept reporting no matter how sophisticated your technology or how complex and advanced your reports. Furthermore, without well-enforced company-wide data governance procedures, how can you hope to achieve the level of data quality required?

The problem is that, all too often, they are looked at separately, resulting in overlap and extra time and money being spent.

The business case

You should not underestimate the effect accurate data has on understanding your customers’ behaviour, buying trends, product retention, promotional activity, financial stability…the list is endless.

The initial thought process should precipitate answers to the following question:

Do the people who have control of the budget understand what Data Management is and why an organisation might need it? 

A simple enough question, but one that is often overlooked because human nature leads us to think that each individual has a similar level of understanding of a subject as we do ourselves, which frequently, is not the case.

Another question to ponder is why should a Data Management Strategy be adopted?

Well, implementing a Data Management Strategy and incorporating good data governance will assist in future-proofing the way in which data is managed moving forward. By implementing the strategy, with all the right ingredients, your organisation can move forward and ensure its data is of a satisfactory quality for the coming years.

Data as an asset

A good Data Management Strategy should prevent data from becoming disorganised, disconnected, hard to manage and difficult to control. If your organisation accepts that data is amongst its most valuable assets, then logically, it would seem to be prudent to keep this “asset” in good shape.  Data that is not properly managed can end up being a liability, an important point to include when building your business case. After all, it is unlikely that any organisation would let other assets deteriorate to a level that would reduce them to being “invaluable”.

Therefore, data shouldn’t be treated any differently.  Robust data management that delivers accurate, controlled, integrated, reliable data can only enhance the operations, decision-making and potentially even the reputation of your company, vital in the current trading climes.

A long-term solution

Data Management should be viewed as a long-term solution that will provide various benefits to your organisation, impacting across the business in all sorts of ways, from better decision making to cost reductions, and a greater understanding of the true position of the business to more streamlined processes.

A Data Management Strategy can identify areas of profligacy, simply by ensuring that the data held in a variety of silos is integrated properly, is of sufficient quality, and is genuinely giving a true and accurate picture of the position of your business.

Also, a good strategy enables activities affecting your core business entities to be easily identified. These activities vary depending on the business. For example, a retailer would be interested in flagging up when stocks run low. An organisation can streamline its business processes by integrating sales and distribution, finance etc. The list is endless.

Overall, a robust Data Management Strategy will transform your organisation into a proactive one rather than a reactive one, underpinning better decision-making and saving money.

Analyst research suggests that on average data management projects will save your business 5 times what it spends over the following 5-10 year period.  With this sort of evidence built into your business case, it will be a much harder task for the budget holders to decline the investment.

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