One of the most important asset categories an organization has is its collection of data assets. This is why so much money is spent on databases, applications, hardware, software, people, and other information system line items: to support these data assets because people understand in general the value of these data assets and how they can help an organization succeed. Often, information technology costs are even far more than other parts of the organization.
We all know that systems are only as good and useful as the data within them. Yet, so few companies have plans around the quality and completeness of the data that sits at the very core of these systems where major investments have been made.
Most companies have general business plans, sales incentive plans, go-to-market plans, financial plans, technology adoption plans, and product offering plans. But how many organizations actually have a 'data management' plan in place?
If you are not sure if your organization has one, or if you think your organization has one and you surmise it is not an effective one, here are some questions to ask:
Is there an individual in your organization responsible for the overall quality, completeness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of the data assets that form the lifeblood of the various systems in use by the organization?
Is there an actual written data management plan accessible by all, one that states what the goals of the plan are, and establishes metrics for achieving those goals?
Is there a process for ongoing "data quality testing" to ensure that the data management policies in place are actually being adhered to and achieved?
Are members of every department aware of the policies that exist in the plan? Are they enforced across the organization? Are all employees trained on these policies?
Is there a technology strategy as part of the data management plan? Have technologies and products been identified and under review to determine if they can help an organization meet the goals stated in the management plan?
If you are not comfortable with the answers to these questions, chances are a plan doesn't exist, or if it does, its implementation has been poor and is likely ineffective.
The data an organization has about customers, potential customers, partners, and other contacts can be such a critical, competitive advantage in the marketplace. If there is not a plan to maximize the value of these data assets in place, at least a basic plan with basic metrics, then I think a lot of opportunity for your organization is simply being lost. Since this is one of those areas of the business where you have practically 100% control over, not having a data management plan in place is a sure sign that your data, and your organization, is far from what it could be.