Are you ready to use your data for good? 

In the final part of our Data for Good series, Amplifi shows community-based, socially responsible organisations how to question their current data capabilities – and what they need to do next to improve them.

If you’ve read the rest of our Data for Good series, you’ll know how data could be supporting your organisation to deliver better experiences for your community and improve your efficiency. You’ll also have a good idea of the challenges it raises – from questioning the reliability of your data to ensuring that everyone has access to it. You’ll probably have recognised some of those challenges from your own experiences – and want to know how to overcome them once and for all.

In our guide – Data for Good: a guide to enhancing your organisation’s social impact with data – we explore those opportunities and challenges and help you to see the bigger picture with your data. But the question you need to ask yourself right now is: how ready are you to start using your data for good?

Defining where you are on that journey, and what you need to do next, is critical to taking the right steps in the right order. It’s easy to get excited by the possibilities that data can deliver – automation, self-service portals, analytics and BI – but as a result, end up running before you can walk. If you want to do good with data, you have to build your data groundwork first – creating a strong data foundation that you can build upon, with full confidence that your data is up to the challenge.

Here, we list the questions you need to answer to assess how ready you are to use your data to introduce new ways to support, safeguard and connect with your community.

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How good is your Data Strategy?

If you’re already undertaking data projects, what’s your end goal? What are you ultimately trying to achieve, and what roadmap are you following to get there? It may sound obvious, but you wouldn’t be the first organisation to launch into a data project without first establishing an end goal and a clear strategy to get there. It’s why Data Governance, for instance, is so often missed in the process, resulting in data projects that are slow to deliver value and frustrating to get off the ground.

First step: Define your Data Strategy. The following points will all play into that strategy, but what exactly each step will look like will depend on your organisation’s goal, culture, existing technology and data practices.

How good is your Data Quality?

Before you can get results from your data, you need to ascertain its quality in the here and now. We have a saying at Amplifi: garbage in, garbage out. If the data you are putting in is inaccurate, inconsistent, out of date or just plain unreliable, the results you get from it will never be good enough. For instance, if you’re introducing an automated customer support function, but your customer data is wildly inconsistent, full of duplicates, essential fields are missing and the contact details are out of date, you’re not going to support the customer so much as frustrate them.

Next step: A Data Quality assessment is a critical step to being ‘data ready’. It will examine the data you have, the data you need, and outline what exactly that data should look like to deliver your goals.

However, a Data Quality assessment alone is not going to ‘fix’ your data. It will bring it up to standard, but without the right measures to maintain it, that quality will start to decline almost instantly. This brings us to our next point.

How good is your Data Governance?

Data Governance often conjures up an idea of rules, boundaries and formal assessments – but the reality is very different. Yes, it does include rules and boundaries, but it’s more liberating than it sounds and is much more focussed on enabling and empowering people to maintain high quality data for their benefit, as well as the benefit of the business. It’s part handbook, part gospel, and it should – if it’s done well – have everyone singing from the same data hymn sheet moving forward.

Next step: Start a Data Governance initiative. Getting external help is recommended, as working with a partner can help overcome internal political barriers. Consultants will also have tricks up their sleeves to make governance stick.

How good is your data culture?

Data culture ties in nicely with Data Governance, but is not one and the same thing. Data Governance can be a good starting point to develop your data culture – bringing everyone on the same page and defining the basics of how to handle data effectively – but data culture is something much deeper. When you have a strong data culture, every aspect of your business appreciates the value of data, understands how to interact with it, and is empowered to use it.

Next step: Keep working on your data literacy. Make data education a core part of the onboarding process for new team members, and assign data champions to challenge people’s attitudes to data, push your data agenda and generate positivity around data projects and capabilities.

How accessible is your data?

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There’s no point in Data Governance and data culture if data isn't democratised in your organisation: that means everyone has access to data who needs it. If you don’t make data centrally available, through a platform like MDM, two things will happen. One, people won’t buy in to your data projects, as it will mean nothing to them. On the occasion they do handle data, they won’t understand the importance of Data Quality. Two, data silos will form, as people take matters into their own hands and start compiling their own data. Both of these eradicate all of the good you want to achieve with those previous points and lead you back to square one.

Next step: Make data available. Work with an external partner to assess the software available on the market and its relevance to your objectives, and implement a platform that democratises data access.

Are you ready to do good with your data?

If you’ve ticked off all of the above, and feel confident that each step has been carried out effectively, then congratulations, you’re ready to start exploring the myriad ways data can help you support your data.

If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present to get started. Download our guide, Data for Good: a guide to enhancing your organisation’s social impact with data, and take the next step towards doing good with your data.

Guide: Data for Good