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Small toolkit: 3) Organisational objectives

This step in the process is to align the activities for improvement with organisational objectives.

This involves reviewing the medium and long term priorities of an organisation, focusing the data improvement plan on increasing capability in the most appropriate areas.

Data is often misunderstood, ignored or mistreated in organisations. One of the reasons for this is the lack of appreciation of how it can support wider institutional aims. These aims and aspirations need to be understood in order to use them as a hook to pull through data capability improvements.

Worked example:

Objective ID Type Theme Dimension Priority Source
Deliver a more responsive and collaborative institution 1 Aspirations Increasing accessibility People and Culture High Corporate Strategy
Review of all products and services to meet changing market conditions 2 Opportunities Student experience Business Process High SWOT
Business Intelligence investment is not being realised due to lack of take up 3 Factors Improving quality Data Activities High Project/Programme
External reporting is making unsustainable demands on our organisation 4 Threats Reducing the burden Data Activities High Risk register
Reduce operational costs by 10% within 18 months 5 Aspirations Reducing the burden Business Process High Financial goal

Types are used to understand where the objectives originate:

  • Factors – known strengths or weaknesses in the current organisation. They may provide the enabler for change or be the blockers.
  • Aspirations – publicly stated or privately formulated medium to long term strategy objectives, goals, targets or broader ideas around transformational institutional change.
  • Threats – internal or external known or upcoming issues which will thwart aspirations and potentially limit revenue and recruitment.
  • Opportunities – potential new services, capabilities and offerings that will generally support transformation programmes, culture, revenue and recruitment.

Themes provide a useful collection point for benefits and risks most pertinent to the organisation:

  • Reducing the burden – streamlining collection, reducing transformation, increasing automation, facilitating linking.
  • Increasing accessibility – adherence to standards, alignment to business events, pervasive data and business modelling.
  • Improving quality – increased data capability and management, metrics and reporting, data ownership.
  • Student experience – coherent experience, improved information and guidance, personalisation and transparency.

Dimension – this is where the capability (or lack of) is most apparent.

  • People and culture – how data is treated and valued in support of business objectives and decision making.
  • Business process – how outputs are supported by business process and how these are managed.
  • Data activities – how data is managed ‘day to day’ and as part of business as usual and change activity.
  • Technology – how tools and platforms enable and support operations and change.

Priority – not every objective can have a high priority. High is urgent AND important. Medium is Important but NOT urgent. Low is neither Urgent nor Important.



  1. Open the Data Capability Templates spreadsheet and navigate to the objectives capture template tab.
  2. Record the objectives using the template and guidance.
  3. Add themes, types, dimensions and priorities to each objective.
  4. Ensure they have a very wide review, including senior management. These are the foundations of your improvement plan.