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Good practice and case studies

The following are drawn from successful data capability programmes both within and outside of the HE sector:

  1. Sponsor Data Capability top down. Data is like oxygen, the value of it is commonly only realised when it is removed. For any maturity journey to be successful it must have a sponsor at the most senior level of the organisation. There are many benefits that dovetail to both short and long term aspirations which can be delivered in part or wholly by creating a roadmap to a better data capability. This needs to be articulated, driven and persisted with by a senior sponsor. Driving data improvement from inside operations or IT is doomed to failure.
  2. Find an initiative/tie to those benefits. Linked to 1) – the ideal way to show the value of increasing data maturity is to link the outputs of the initiative to a project that will be enhanced/enabled by delivering them. Data capability within a data silo helps no one. It is time to let it into the wild.
  3. Create a data culture. Data is everybodys opportunity and should be showcased in the same way as other organisational values. Providing better tools and the capabilities for people to do their jobs will create data analysts ‘for free’ and improve the efficiency/efficacy of everyone handling data, not just the data specialists.
  4. Consider tooling for quick wins. Linked to 3) – there may be tooling available which has immediate and measurable benefits for one or multiple business units/departments/teams. The only cautionary comment here is to ensure it meshes with other technical roadmaps and does not create silos/specific tools that only one person or department can use.
  5. Look for commonality within separate initiatives. Everyone will be doing data’ somewhere. There’s a huge opportunity to pull together this cross-disciplinary work and share it with everyone.
  6. Do not expect things to change overnight. While some initiatives can ‘jump start’ a maturity increase, it takes time, effort, focus and sometimes bloody-mindedness to get this over the line. There will always be resistance to change, so simple and effective communication plans and realistic timetables for measurable increases in capability are mandatory.
  7. Assess where you are regularly. It’s important to create a roadmap but even more important is for it not to become dogmatic. Remember to focus the increase in capability to support the activities the organisation requires. These will change and your roadmap and priorities must change with them.
  8. Re-run this assessment with a multi-disciplinary team. It would be a useful exercise to baseline these results against a second one with wider participation. Views of data maturity tend to vary by business unit and this can be very enlightening.
  9. Treat everyone equally. Everyone starts from a different place with data. It is important to have a ‘big tent’ to make sure the views of all are understood and respected. Especially those working daily in operations who often have excellent ideas but do not have the bandwidth/mandate to get them implemented.
  10. Catch the bus before it leaves! You have identified the need to improve data capability. This is the ideal time to do so. Waiting for some event/programme/project is not the right approach.

Case studies

Included below are some case studies from across the sector:

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