Often the biggest barrier to implementing an effective data quality strategy isn’t recognition of potential benefits like operational efficiency, better decision making and risk avoidance, but rather the ability to prove them and build a business case. If you can’t quantify the tangible returns data quality can bring, how do you get buy-in for investment in it?
I’ve discussed this issue countless times with customers and it’s a minefield. You need to demonstrate the value that a data management tool will deliver but first you need that very tool to measure the scale of the problem and the expected level of complexity to fix it. Without this information at your fingertips you’ll struggle to quantify what value fixing those issues will actually deliver. Sound impossible? Well it’s not. There are ways to tackle this, in fact in a recent guest blog on our website, Dylan Jones gives some very practical advice on how implement to tactics such as running a “lean pilot”.
I wanted share my experience of how Schroders have done exactly this in practise and my key takeaways to help organisations looking to do the same. If you’d like to know more, Ovum have created a detailed case study which you can read here.
Schroders – from a small start to great rewards
Schroders is a large global asset management firm with almost £400bn under its stewardship on behalf of institutional and individual investors. With many investment decisions relying on data, errors could present a large financial and reputational risk. Anecdotally, they were aware of some data quality issues, and in response manual checks were put in place. These checks proved inefficient from a time and cost perspective but crucially, were they missing anything?
Despite being aware of the issues, Schroders had no way of being able to quantify them, nor the impact they were having. And that’s where we came in.
Having tested our data management technology, Experian Pandora, via a trial, it was chosen for a “proof of concept”. With just three licenses a team of non-technical users were very rapidly able to assess the data, investigate root cause and prove the value that a wider data quality assurance initiative would bring – no lengthy implementation phase, no costly development and very quick results. As a result, Schroders didn’t hesitate in expanding the licenses to support a full data quality program. With full confidence in their data quality they can now put the focus back on driving value for investors.
My key takeaways for proving the value of data quality investment
The Schroders example stands out for me and I would urge all organisations to take a leaf from its book and consider the following areas when trying to secure buy-in for your data quality program:
1) Ease of implementation is key to securing management buy-in
Schroders’ operations team and management board had to be convinced that returns would come quickly and at a modest implementation cost. When technology can be effortlessly integrated, results will be more rapid and costs will be lower so it’s easier to illustrate what the ultimate value will be.
2) Speed and simplicity are vital
With an intuitive interface, the team at Schroders found Experian Pandora easy to use. They could derive useful insight almost immediately and were using it to almost full potential within a few months. I believe data discovery is far more valuable when done by those who understand how the data is being used. So, choose a technology that enables collaboration with or can be used by business users.
Data quality shouldn’t be measured as an arbitrary score but by the impact it has on the business. If the platform empowers users they’ll quickly be able to provide evidence for data quality investment in the long term.
3) Don’t forget to highlight the wider organisational benefits that technology can deliver
Schroders experienced a noticeable morale-boosting effect from the process improvements that Experian Pandora allowed. Using a data management tool can free operations teams from mundane, reactive tasks and enable them to start preventing problems before they arise. If you can implement a solution like Experian Pandora that drives change quickly, you’ll start to see these indirect cultural benefits. You may well find that stakeholders are then likely to have a greater appetite for widening the project and on-going initiatives.
Don’t let poor data quality hold you back
The Schroders example really demonstrates that it’s possible to win over your stakeholders with the right approach, the right technology and a small initial investment. That’s what makes my job a pleasure – I can use Experian Pandora to rapidly deliver unique insight to organisations about their data, sometimes in hours, that they can use to prove the case for investment and drive real change.