The Role of the Data Audit - Is Your Data Fit For Purpose?

Friday May 17, 2019

A Person Holding a Tablet with a Map of the World Above itIt is self-evident that if your business is going to be driven by data then your data had better be fit for purpose. By this I mean that it is:

Available – it is practical to access it within the timeframe that it is required

Dependable – it can be trusted, its supply is reliable and it is of a suitable quality

Usable – it is in a form that can be processed.

There are two directions from which to approach determining your data’s fitness for purpose and in many instances a combination of both will be deployed:

  1. Audit your existing data to determine what use-cases it can support
  2. Start with your desired use-cases then audit the available data to determine what needs to be done for it to support them

This is often a chicken and egg scenario whereby an initial data audit will help to determine quick-wins in terms of supportable use-cases. The real prize, however, as discussed in previous blogs, is to determine what is required to support the business use-cases that will drive the organisation forward, perform an audit to determine the data assets currently at your disposal and then form a data action-plan to take corrective action as necessary. You will note that I have referred to a “data action plan” rather than a data strategy; this is a much larger subject that we may revisit in another blog series

Typical topics covered in the data audit include:

  • What is the (business) scope of the data available?
  • How do the data sources relate to each other?
  • Are there any known dependencies upon other data sources?
  • How may it be accessed?
  • When is it available?
  • Over what time period is it valid or useful?
  • What is the quality of the data (a topic in itself, which will be covered in the next blog)?
  • Is the source dependable and repeatable?
  • Does the data need to be augmented, either with additional data points or completely new sources?
  • How long must and should the data be retained?

It is extremely important that data is regarded as a business asset and not just the by-product of your business activities. Whilst some of the topics listed above necessarily have a technical element, wherever possible the data audit should be approached from a business perspective – data should not be regarded as an IT problem.

Data is the fuel that enables you to drive your business forward as you become a data-driven organisation and it should be treated as such.

Does your organisation treat data as a business asset or does it still regard it as an IT issue? Are the data assets that are within your company identified and fit for purpose? As ever, Like, Share or comment as appropriate or drop us an email if you would like to discuss any of these topics further.

Steve Crosson Smith
Client Director, SDG Group

Helping companies to become
data-driven organisations
by enabling them to
organise, analyse and visualise data



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