Thursday, November 23, 2017
Thursday, 08 September 2016 00:00

Data Quality


As discussed in our previous posts, all your sales and operational data does not provide the same level of value to your organization. So then why do you think you should manage all data to the same level of quality? Quality is relative to the value the information provides or supports as measured by its contribution to your business objectives. 

The goal is not perfection – because there is a cost to perfection that will not necessarily lead to increased value. A better goal might be... “imperfect – but with intentional and consistent quality”.

Here are some tips to help you develop and manage a balanced data quality program.

“Value Stream” Your Data

The concept here is that if you can’t map (clearly identify the affect of) how the data contributes to a meaningful and measureable outcome for your organization or department, then it is simply an interesting piece of information and not worthy of process control. Note that this does not necessarily mean that the data should not be maintained at all – but it does beg the question.

Begin by outlining the key measurements that drive your organizational or departmental success. These are the outcomes (think KPIs) that must be met in each of your organizational performance areas such as compliance, financial, operations, customer service or reputation management.

Next, go down a level and identify the measurable outcomes that drive success in each of your key measurements for each organizational performance area. For instance, one such measurement in the financial domain may be total sales revenue generated in a period.

Then map the data that contributes to each of those measurements. Be specific and identify the data element’s contribution level by categorizing it as:

  • Direct – has a direct relationship to the final measurement. For instance, the actual GL revenue generated from a sales transaction. This then ties back to a key measurement of profitability.
  • Supporting – is not directly attributed to the measurement, but supports the narrative for the measurement.  For instance, the level of discount applied to the list price to arrive at the net revenue amount.
  • Leading – a direct measurement to the future of the primary area of focus.  For instance, the estimated net GL revenue on open sales opportunities.

Balance is Key

Once you map each of the organizational performance areas, you should validate them based on the tiers you outlined based on our previous Blog post. Then you can more easily identify each of the organizational performance areas. This helps you understand WHY data is important and is valuable in supporting process and data quality communications with your team. This also informs how you must balance your organizational performance areas and therefore your data management and quality programs.

Lastly be sure to look at the data that you maintain that IS NOT on the list created through this analysis. Ask yourself why you maintain it. If you can’t identify how the data provides current or future value, is it worth having? In a world that leads you to believe that more data is always good – it can be argued that without intention and purpose it is just cost and not value.

Design Quality Goals Based on Value

Now you have the information to define data quality goals that are meaningful to your organization. Using data source and business process analysis techniques, you can build processes that increase the value of the right data while not spending time and money on information that does not lead to results that are important to you. You now can build an intentional and consistent quality management program for your data. This is the subject of our next post – in the meantime, click here to read the rest of this blog series.

Want help getting started? Get the Data Stewardship Checklist


Published in News
Thursday, 14 July 2016 00:00

Data Prioritization

In our previous Data Stewardship post we discussed the core component of assigning and communicating data ownership and accountability. We also created a “Data Stewardship Checklist” that can provide structure to assist in creating and maintaining the missing link. Click here to get the checklist.

Now that the data ownership has been assigned (see previous blog post), you need to prioritize what will be worked on first – and why. It’s critical to define and communicate the relative business value of data and establish processes accordingly. Let’s dive in…

Define high-level data map in tiers

The first step is to define your high level data map in your critical business processes. Specifically, this should be done in logical sets of data (for example, demographic data, versus relationship data, versus transaction data), not at a data field level. Part of this data map should include setting business impact criteria with each process owner and establishing data tiers with simple “ABC” ranking. A good rule of thumb is to categorize the “ABC” ratings, where “A” is Business Critical, “B” is Business Impactful, and “C” is Nice to Have. After you’ve set individual process owner priorities, consolidate the individual process owner priorities into a single consolidated view to make sure there’s no gaps in ownership and priority. Review the overall list for gaps and overlaps, and get the list validated with the individual owners.

Establish appropriate processes to your prioritized data

A key success factor is aligning the appropriate processes based on the priorities of each level of data. As is taught in best practice inventory management, you hand count “A” level items often. “B” level items may do spot counts, and “C” level items you just replenish when you’re out of them. You typically manage the quality of tier “A” data with exception reporting and dashboards, which presents useable information to you instead of having to dig through multiple data sources. An example might be having a dashboard showing all sales pipeline activities where the expected close date is now past-due more than a week.

Tiers “B” and “C” will require less rigorous and frequent audit components. For instance, tier “B” data might just include routine review of the business impactful data into specific job roles and responsibilities. An example would be someone specifically assigned to look for duplicate information between systems on a monthly basis. Tier “C” might be similar but on a less-frequent basis, or could simply be a reactionary process once incorrect data is identified. Setting appropriate processes, timeframes, and owners based on the relative business impact of the information is critical. Line up appropriate cleansing and audit processes with the business impact of the information so you don’t just have a one size fits all process.

Tie data to your accountability to organization roles

Once the data tiers are set and prioritized, and the appropriate data management processes are established, now you want to tie them to the ownership and accountability in your organization. As described in the first post in this blog series, you’ve already established data ownership, now you need to include data process ownership to specific roles and people. To the extent you can, you should establish these new responsibilities in the Human Resource processes such as job descriptions and performance evaluations.

In the next blog post, we will discuss the specifics of how to build quality into the data management processes as part of overall data stewardship.

Want to see more detail on how to get started? Download the Data Stewardship Checklist, and sign up to get email updates from the Data Stewardship blog series where you’ll receive more information about organizing and maintaining your data assets. We’ll send you subsequent emails for each of the data stewardship areas outlined above.


Published in News
Thursday, 23 June 2016 00:00

Data Ownership

In our previous Data Stewardship post we outlined four key areas of focus that when managed intentionally lead to a solid data stewardship environment.  We also created a “Data Stewardship Checklist” that can provide structure to assist in creating and maintaining the missing link. Click here to get the checklist.

bad data mountain

Today we’ll focus on arguably the simplest of the four key focus areas related to Data Stewardship, which is also the one that most often gets overlooked. In order to be successful in this effort you need to put someone in charge of it and create an understanding of its importance. This involves four components:

  • Establish stewardship priorities and a common understanding of “why”
  • Assign accountability to data owners
  • Provide process resources and tools to support improvement
  • Measure results and plan for improvement

Establish Priorities

There is always inherent value in clarity. A foundational success factor is to clearly define your purpose for data management and quality. Explain why it’s important. This seems elementary, but clarity of purpose should never be implied. 

Create a practical connection between data and your desired outcomes. You can do this by outlining the critical decisions that are made based on data. Create a data map indicating the data flow from data collection to making that critical decision. Use practical examples of data quality variation and show how it leads to lower quality strategic and operational decisions. Show your commitment to data stewardship by confidently including it in your organizational fabric.  Invite debate about the program design and the processes involved. Build data ownership into both your operational processes and improvement projects as a rule.

Assign Accountability

In order to be successful, someone needs to be accountable. This does not imply that Data Stewardship is a one-person effort – quite the contrary. While every person, process and system that collects and manages information in your organization plays a role in data stewardship, the assignment of someone to the overall accountability of a data stewardship program is critical. This ensures focus and attention to the overall effort.  It also allows for a much higher level of consistency in both data accuracy and process efficiency.

As part of defining accountability, be clear about the role each person plays. Define the specific activities to assist people, processes and systems in creating a higher quality data environment. Outline peoples’ role in managing data prioritization, data quality definitions and process improvement. Allow each role to manage data improvement projects. Position each data owner in the organization as a resource to assist people in both data collection and data management roles as well as decision makers to be more effective and confident in the information they use.

Commit Resources

Demonstrate that you are dedicated to data quality by committing resources to support improving processes. Fix your data problem at its source or appropriate process point, not as an audit-based correction. While inspections and audits always play a part in a data stewardship program, focusing on designing quality processes should dramatically reduce the need for audit. Implement automated data analysis tools to assist you in catching abnormalities and incomplete data. Do simple things like designing targeted, exception-only based action lists so your team only has to act on high value data.

Active Leadership

Make data quality and data stewardship a part of your leadership mantra. Talk about it, set expectations, plan improvement and measure results. Stick with your vision that you define for your data priorities and your definition of the “right” level of data quality. Prove its importance by making improvements that move you toward the goal. Show and celebrate how the process improvements are benefiting the organization and your team. Importantly, only make a big deal about data quality in areas that warrant the attention. Make a plan and follow the plan – if is it has been defined as critical, treat it appropriately.

Want to see more detail on how to get started? Download the Data Stewardship Checklist, and set up a meeting to go over your unique Data Stewardship needs.

Published in News


Your new information system is in, the staff has been trained and are confident in the process.  The painstaking data cleansing and migration effort is barely a faint memory.  Everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief and is eager to charge forward and not look back.  Now fast forward just a few weeks or months... and you are asking why your data quality challenge already seems like such a huge mountain to climb.

bad data mountain

It may start with one of the following pain points...

  • Why are my dashboards and reports noisy already?
  • Which of these views or dashboards are the most meaningful, anyhow?
  • Wait, is this any better than what I had before?
  • How does this information compare to my historical graphs and charts?
  • I thought my new system was going to provide me better information!
  • Did we make a bad system choice?

If this feels familiar, read on before genuine panic sets in.  This may not be a system problem at all.  It may, however, be the result of lack of discipline and business purpose relative to your data management processes.

Many organizations put new systems or different processes in place in an effort to better manage organizational relationships, processes and information.  The problem is that while we have been adequately trained to be good stewards of the time and financial resources at our disposal, we often forget that data needs the same care and focus.  The unavoidable buzz around “Big Data”, “BI” and analytics-based decision making create an illusion of simplicity.  The fact that today’s systems and database environments can easily and inexpensively store vast amounts of data creates a desire for more information.  This desire needs to be carefully and intentionally managed from end to end.  Make sure you have a data stewardship plan as part of your ongoing system and process management discipline.

In our experience, there are four key areas of focus that when managed intentionally lead to a solid data stewardship environment.  We have created a “Data Stewardship Checklist” that can provide structure to assist in creating and maintaining the missing link. Click here to get the checklist.

As part of our ongoing Data Stewardship blog series, we’ll dive into the major areas of data management that you should focus on. Here’s a preview of what’s to come on our blog:

Ownership and Design

This is the core component of data stewardship. This involves assigning and communicating data ownership and accountability.

Data Prioritization

It is critical to define and communicate the relative business value of data and establish processes accordingly.

Data Quality

Is perfection always the goal for every data element you collect?  While one could argue that you are always better off having higher quality data, you need to measure the cost of perfection.

Actively Engage and Measure

Once you have a handle on all the other topics, you need to make data stewardship part of the fabric of your organization through active engagement and appropriate metrics.

Want to see more detail on how to get started? Download the Data Stewardship Checklist, and sign up to get email updates from the Data Stewardship blog series where you’ll receive more information about organizing and maintaining your data assets. We’ll send you subsequent emails for each of the data stewardship areas outlined above.


Published in News

One of the critical questions to answer when redesigning or simply enhancing your business processes is – which focus area will provide the highest value to go after first? Because you can’t “eat the elephant all at once,” there are a number of factors that should go into deciding how you prioritize your business process work.

Photo - People looking chart on wall

First, think about your business strategy and success drivers. For instance, if you are in a low margin or competitive industry, your primary business objective is expanding margins. Improving operating efficiency would be the primary criteria for choosing business processes to redesign. On the other hand, if increased “walletshare” (expanding sales with current customers) is a higher priority driver, then the potential for enhanced relationships and uncovering hidden sales opportunities would be a better prism through which to prioritize improvement areas.

Another key factor to realistically consider is your organization’s culture and appetite for process change. Any great improvement idea can be rendered ineffective if it is not adopted well, and fully incorporated into a new way of doing business. Gaining buy in from the people involved in the process, including incorporating ideas that improve their (and not just management’s) experience can dramatically improve success rates.

There are a number of other factors to consider when launching a Business Process Management project.  DPT’s Design and Readiness approach evaluates all of the pertinent factors to tailor the right answer for your organization and situation.

Contact us to talk to a DPT performance expert.



Published in News
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 12:29

In the Spotlight: Jack Kelly

With over 27 years as a successful business strategist and leader, Jack Kelly has learned more than his share of business lessons by jumping in and attacking problems. Jack comes to DPT with an exceptional knowledge of how we operate and a unique appreciation of our local partnership approach – This perspective comes from his previous professional life where he was engaged with DPT as one of our longest lasting customers.

Problem solving and the art of aligning business strategy and process are just a couple areas where Jack enjoys spending his professional time. With a broad background spanning finance, technology, sales, and operations, there are few challenges that Jack doesn’t have the experience to understand and tackle. His approach is simple: No problem is as complicated as we make it out to be. Break it down and find a positive solution.

kelly fam

Outside of work, Jack loves spending time with his wife, Julie, and two sons, Vince and Ross. They enjoy playing board games, being outdoors, playing music, being on the water, and last but not least – cheering for the Spartans! Lastly, here are two messages about Jack’s outlook on life - It is a good thing we don’t have to live this life alone! - and - Fun is critically important… have some today!

Read more about Jack



Published in News
Thursday, 06 February 2014 16:19

The Right Mix

Making a great food dish starts with quality ingredients. There’s a lot of value in having fine flour, fresh veggies, and the perfect aged cheese when it comes to taking a recipe from “so-so” to mouthwatering. You wouldn’t build a gourmet pizza from less than perfect ingredients, and the same is true for improving your business performance.


Do you have a business problem or improvement area that you need to tackle? Or maybe you have an aggressive growth plan and need a partner to help you get there? Our experienced business strategists allow us to interact with our clients at a strategic level – quickly understanding your priorities and vision, and effectively bringing the right mix of DPT’s practice areas to bear to solve your problems and move you forward.

The question isn’t which service to start with, but what’s the right mix of business service “ingredients” to get at the heart of your problem and make business change happen. At DPT, our services are closely integrated, and we work with you to engage those services where it makes the most sense to bring you exactly what you need to improve your business.


As an example, a key success factor in implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions is defining and standardizing the underlying business processes (Business Process Management). Meanwhile, Project Leadership plays a role not only in managing scope, schedules, and budget, but also in driving success through change management, mitigating risk, and measuring business performance.  Of course, we also leverage our extensive CRM strategy and design experience on such projects.

When it comes to improving your business performance, the value isn’t just in the ingredients, but in how they are mixed together to drive success. Want to know more about how DPT can help you take your business to the next level? Contact us.


Published in News