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Small toolkit: 5) Understand the gaps

This step brings together the work done so far to create ‘gaps’ between the as-is and to-be state.

These gaps form the first part of the plan for improvements in data capability.

To define your gaps, consider gaps which articulate the reason why the as-is state needs to change. A gap should never have a mitigation contained within it. Think of the gap as ‘the reason to change’ and the mitigation (covered in the sixth step) as the ‘way to change’. This is shown in the example below:

Gap Description From level To level Gap ID Dimension Theme
The value of data is only understood in terms of known outputs. No effort is being put into creating better services with the data we have. 1-Reactive 2-Stable 1 Business Process Student experience
A lack of data strategy and data model leads to random activity without roadmaps, designs and principles to determine the best approach and actions. 1-Reactive 3-Proactive 2 Business Process Increasing accessibility
Data Management is not a collaborative experience. Too much good practice hidden in organisational silos and these silos do not communicate on how the quality and metrics of their outputs/handover. 1-Reactive 2-Stable 3 People and Culture Reducing the burden
Accountability and responsibility for data are in organisational silos which is almost never in the right place. 1-Reactive 2-Stable 4 People and Culture Reducing the burden
No Data framework or governance consistently used or published. People just do what they think is best leading to lack of trust of 'data that isn't mine'. 1-Reactive 3-Proactive 5 Data Activities Increasing accessibility

Shaded cells indicate a gap greater than one level.

There are five gaps categorised using the clustered benefits/risks (themes) and the clustered issues/current state. This should give a clear understanding of what needs to change in terms of data capability to close these gaps.

In two of the examples, the gaps are too wide. A reactive institution cannot close a gap that requires a proactive mitigation. Gaps can only span one level. It will require some iteration to create gaps that are wide enough to demonstrate real change when closed, but narrow enough that any such change is possible to implement.



  1. Using the gaps query tool to help you identify gaps between levels. These should help inform your own gaps. A well written gap explains what the gap is and why it’s important to close it.
  2. Open the Data Capability Templates spreadsheet and navigate to the gap analysis tab.
  3. Record the gaps using the template and cross reference to objectives, issues and benefits. This is a time consuming task but extremely important. Leave the mitigations column until the next step in the process.
  4. Check the gaps really are the right ones to form the basis of the improvement plan. Do not choose too many as the plan will become fragmented and impossible to implement. Don’t attempt to close more than five gaps at once.