Sunday, 19 April 2020

Data All Over The Road

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This last three months or so, I have been involved in a number of new projects, which from early scoping and initial needs, look very much like dropping some pretty standard self-service, on to some mature systems. Taking the more detailed look, its not often that simple.

As with when I were a teenager, taking a quick look at a Vauxhall engine with 78,000 miles on it, you wonder why so many things don’t look connected. Indeed my first question with a ‘M’ Reg Viva 1300L was, “what’s that brown foam coming out of the rocker box?

If only data leaking all over the place, was as easy to spot as oil coming out of a sump, we would all be in a better place. However, every organisation I work with, have some data outside of primary systems, in little island applications or Excel. What does this look like and why would managers favour this approach?

Well start at the top, take a look at your KPIs and determine where they are sourced from. If values are keyed in, rather than taken from a well structured detail source, chances are that the source the data should be in, is incomplete. Where we are dependent on staff, we inevitably see errors, transpositions and in many cases bias. The best auditors I have ever worked with, never stop until the detail adds up to the summary KPI. If it doesn’t then the green ink pen comes out.

Multiple sources of the same core data, rings similar alarm bells. Which contact telephone number is the most accurate one? The one related to the contact, the last one mentioned on a repair or a CRM call? How can you create the best customer orientated service, if we struggle to even know their most recent or relevant phone number.

Look out for canines too. Anywhere you can find two staff and a dog, maintaining a GIS, case management, asset system or Leasehold management application, we probably have some detached or island data, right there. I suggest you get a nose for it, as it will be the Achilles Heal, in creating complete and frictionless self-service.

Asset Management can be one of the worst teams for over collecting data. There is an enormous cost in keeping data accurate and trustworthy. If data has no value and does not contribute to KPI’s in a meaningful way, or perhaps for KPI’s NOT in a meaningful way, then we are renting it on borrowed time. A bit like that guitar in the back bedroom, you got eight years ago and never managed mastering those two chords. Its better to let it go.

So to the second question, why on earth would you allow such fragmentation of your key data?

Well sometimes its just the organic way systems have evolved over time. More likely, previous managers perhaps did not like a particular application, for sensible or irrational reasons and chose another. Less now can departmental managers make such procurements, with ICT only being made aware when the implementers ruck up. However it can happen that way.

One big issue I find is that some teams or staff refuse to keep core systems up to date and managers do not understand the importance of enforcing rules. Often ICT try to protect the data, but can come across more like the ‘hard cops’, acting against the staff interests, which is quite the reverse of what’s generally intended. Managers sometimes then go in another direction, branch out into T-cards, whiteboards or a nice insulated hosted SaaS solution, that cuts out those pesky rogue users.

All of these organisation habits, lead to a massive throttling of possible self-service quick wins. Recognise them and you can manage your transition better, to excellent and comprehensive self-service. 

Related Post: How do you prove your system interventions are truly making a difference


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Rival Sons - All Over the RoadRival Sons - All Over the Road.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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