Taming BIG Data: Taking Back Control

The technical representatives in the workgroup will be responsible for:

  1. Compiling the list of reports, users and frequency of usage;
  2. Categorizing data elements and usage across reports and decision making tools; and
  3. Determining the cost of maintaining the relevant systems and developing a cost model.

The technical staff may be able to gather statistics such as how often a report/extract is produced, the number of users that access the report, etc. They may choose to work with someone in finance to develop a model that includes direct and indirect cost of maintaining systems and related decision support infrastructure.

The program management representatives are focused on:

  1. Identifying the best resources and obtaining the necessary approvals for their involvement in the project;
  2. Developing facilitated session agendas and outcomes;
  3. Consolidating the deliverables and presenting the recommendations to the governance group; and
  4. Identifying and communicating the follow-on projects to the programs.

Preparing for the facilitated sessions that produce the recommendations for the governance council requires adequate preparation time. Of all the sessions that will need to be prepared, the prioritization of reports will be one of the most challenging.

After the group agrees on the value and prioritization of the reports the real work begins. For each report or extract, the specific list of reporting attributes should be listed. The technology members then use this list to perform data lineage and provide data element and sourcing information. By using this approach whereby you prioritize the information used for decision making and tracing back to the data elements required for those decisions, the workgroup can better assess the value of the data elements created and sourced by the company. The technical team can then provide a more accurate estimate of the cost of sourcing, loading, storing, and retaining this specific information.

The workgroup should develop an estimate of the cost of each report and display a list of prioritized data elements based on the cost estimates for review and finalization. It is very important to understand the return on investment on a granular basis by data element as it helps the business in providing the quantitative value of the specific data and the reports.

By following this approach, the discussion changes from “I want everything” to “That piece information is not worth that much.” Master data and other reference data is typically on the high end of the list in both the value provided and the cost to maintain. By completing this exercise, a company can better assess if the information it is using for making decisions (via reports, etc.) are aligned with the type of decisions required to create value to the company.

The added advantage of conducting this exercise is that now you have a prioritized list of attributes that can be used by the business to:

  • Clarify attributes, definitions, and purpose (think of a standard corporate dictionary);
  • Define single point ownership of the highest value attributes or attribute groups (data ownership); and
  • Define process as needed for maintaining reference data sets (master and reference data management).
  • Simultaneously, you can provide the technical team value by:
  • Providing architects with input to architect better information management solutions;
  • Assisting with continuous improvement of development standards; and
  • Guiding the development team understanding/focus of detail or tactical development activities.

Organizations need to understand the purpose of the information assets it captures to fully realize the value of those assets. Understanding the usage of the information in decision making and capturing the return on the information assets is the first step to this end. The process allows the three major EIM programs to have more specific direction.

The business program can focus on periodic reviews that build the information management maturity by continuously assessing and reprioritizing the information that provides the most value add to the organization.

The technology program can continue to reassess the cost of the specified information management based on the business priorities.

And, finally, the EIM program management can use this information to prioritize the projects that provides the greatest value to achieve its tactical and strategic goals. Once the company understands how the information and supporting data elements are used for decision making, it can then turn its focus to the next area of ILM, data creation.

Stephen Boschulte MBA, PMP, CISSP, is a senior information management strategist. He has over 14 years’ experience working with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies and small organizations. Mr. Boschulte is the author of A Practical Guide for Implementing an EIM Program and can be reached at [email protected].