5 Important Steps in Developing a Data Strategy

Posted by Trevor Warren, Data Architect, - Oct 21, 2020

Your data plays a starring role in business planning. That’s why your organization needs to understand how it supports your operations and growth. All of that stored information is one of your most important assets and competitive advantages.

This understanding should reach beyond the present moment and also look toward your future data needs. Developing a scalable data strategy is crucial to business success now and down the road.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what it takes to build a data strategy roadmap that makes the most of this important organizational asset. 

What is a Data Strategy?

Before you build a data strategy, it’s a good idea to cover what exactly one is, what it does and why your organization should have one. You want to be sure to have solid data buy-in across the organization before you launch an enterprise data strategy.

planningA good data strategy provides you with a vision of how you collect, store, manage, use and share your organization’s data. For most organizations, the amount of data undergoing those activities is only increasing, in some cases in torrents of both structured and unstructured data. The amount of data can be overwhelming.

That’s why implementing a strong data strategy is important. A strategy helps you clarify your data’s purpose and helps you build a roadmap for managing it in a way that benefits everyone in the organization.

More often than not, a company’s data framework isn’t business-focused, but it needs to be. An actionable data strategy should promote efficient resource usage and support an organization’s overall strategy. Data should not be siloed away from overall goals and organizational initiatives. It needs to be an overarching, living entity within your organziation.

An actionable data strategy should promote efficient resource usage and support an organization’s overall strategy. @OnixNetworking

It holds too much valuable information that can be used to make powerful business decisions. Developing a data strategy will help your organization assess what data you have and how and why you should use it. It’s truly a building block for so many activities across the enterprise.

5 Steps for Developing a Data Strategy

Now that you understand why developing a data strategy is important, here are the steps to follow during the strategic planning process.

1) Create a Diverse Strategic Planning Committee

strategic planning committeeHistorically, most organizations approach data from the top down. Our advice? Don’t. Data reaches across all areas of an organization, so it’s crucial to get stakeholders across the company involved in this strategic planning process. That’s the first step to successfully developing a data strategy.

Why? Involving a cross-section of stakeholders allows planning to dig deeper into how company data is used throughout the company, providing a bigger picture that drives better decisions and strategy development. If you know how things are being used throughout the organization, you can build on areas that can and should be used to advance business directives and goals.

2) Define How Your Data Aligns with Organizational Goals

As you consider this step, your planning committee needs to agree on the role your data plays in reaching measurable organizational goals. These goals determine the kind of data you need and also guide how it is collected, stored, managed, accessed and analyzed. Ask yourselves, “How will this data help our organization over the next year? The next five? The next 10?”

3) Address How to Collect, Access and Use Data

data collectionAny successful data strategy needs to examine how efficiently you will manage all that data. What are the ways you are collecting it? How will all pertinent stakeholders access it? How is it going to be used once they do access it?

These are important questions to address when you are building your strategy. You want to be sure it’s being used and analyzed in ways that help answer the business questions that were asked of the data.

4) Discuss Breaking Down Data Silos

Chances are much of your organization’s data is siloed and hard to access when it comes to cross-departmental needs. You want to be sure it’s easy to access, use and understand. Silos make this hard to do.

A strong data strategy needs to address how you will break down these silos and improve data accessibility for all stakeholders. Decide if you need to consolidate data management systems. Develop policies for data storage and structure that benefit the organization as a whole.

5) Design a Strategic Implementation Roadmap

implementing strategyLastly, make sure you know how you plan to implement this strategy. Who will own each step of the process? What’s your timeline? How will you roll out the changes? Make sure all of these variables are documented with a solid plan.

Speaking of changes, it’s always a good idea to incorporate change management into the process. Let your workforce know why you are implementing a new data strategy, how it will be implemented and what their roles, if any, will be in the process. Provide training if necessary and help them embrace a better way to use and analyze your vital data.

Be sure to check out more about data in our blog, What's the Difference Between a Data Lake and Data Warehouse.

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Meet the Author

Trevor Warren, Data Architect

Trevor Warren, Data Architect

Trevor has nearly a decade of experience in solving problems for complex computer systems and improving processes. Trevor earned a Master of Science in Data Science. He is also a Google Cloud Certified Professional - Cloud Architect and Data Engineer.

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