Two must-read articles as we start managing our data in 2015:
- What End of Year Data Predictions Mean by Jordan Goldmeier, Cambia Factor CEO, Excel MVP and co-host of ExcelTV.
- Technology Can’t Ever Solve the Information Management Problem by Joe Shepley, VP and Practice Leader at Doculabs
Please read those articles. For this blogpost, these are the juiciest, most relevant excerpts from each article:
Jordan Goldmeier, What End of Year Data Predictions Mean
Joe and Jordan offer sober reminders of the limitations of technology. They invite us to take a hard look at the totality of managing data. Jordan points to friction between departments. Joe says that poor processes are really at the root of bad data-related situations and decisions.
Amen! We get to have an honest discussion about why solutions fail. Sometimes the solutions are bad. However, tools/technology are just part of making this world run right on good data. The other parts are People and Processes. And no business is immune. It could be
- The 1-person operation that spends $500 on a solution and never gets it configured
- The big company that spends $1M on a solution that works great for one department and is a horror for another department
- Any company with at least 2 people, and one person has created a data fiefdom, slowing down processes and disempowering others
More money for better tools isn’t the answer in those situations.
PEOPLE, PROCESSES & TOOLS
As I type this I feel like I’m saying something trivial and obvious. However, I see it time and time again: over-reliance on tools and not enough about the processes and the people in the processes.
What goes wrong? Why does Joe say that in spite of what’s available, companies aren’t any better at managing data? Here’s what I’ve seen.
Not everyone is trained for handling data, and that often includes the people who make the decision to write the check for a data management solution. What they tend to lack is a sense for distinguishing between:
- tool/tech problems
- process problems and
- personnel/skill problems
Not everyone is trained for handling data, and many actually hate working with data. They want the color-by-numbers data management instructions; or they’re scared of breaking something or being wrong.
There is no formal process. Information has to be fed into a solution in order to get reports and insight. The solution has to be configured, corrected and maintained. For a new solution to be effective we need reliable people to do the feeding, configuring, correcting and maintaining.
We need empowered people who take ownership, and understand the consequences of workarounds, crap data, and putting things off until “one day.”
A tool is a tool. The people and processes dictate the effectiveness.
CONCLUSION: PEOPLE, PROCESSES & “GOOD ENOUGH” TOOLS
Let’s think. Some how humanity got to today without fancy data management tools.
Music, indoor plumbing, wars, gambling, vaccinations, skyscrapers, census records, embezzlement, hospitals, and intercontinental travel all have data components and they existed before computers and $199/month software services. But what was required for their existence was
- “good enough” tools for managing the data,
- deliberate processes with
- the right people in the right places.
We’ve got to do more to identify, train and empower the right people who can support the right processes.
REMINDER: Please check out these articles
- What End of Year Data Predictions Mean by Jordan Goldmeier
- Technology Can’t Ever Solve the Information Management Problem by Joe Shepley