Data issues are deeply rooted and extremely complex. Not only do organizations have trouble fixing bad data, but they also have difficulty finding the root cause of the issue.
Data Audits are traditionally focused on security and compliance and rightfully so, but availability and trust issues need to be uncovered as well, as these are driving factor for a winning operation.
Complex organizations, such as shipping companies, have started to pay more attention to data in the recent years but very often, also because of the large amount of information currently available, they are not aware of all their data sources, data audits are therefore ineffective, only focusing on issues and failing to get to the root of the problem and therefore solid resolutions
To effectively manage data and fully realize its potential, an organisation must first be aware of the location, condition and value of its assets. Conducting an audit will provide this information, raising awareness of collection strengths and data issues to improve overall strategy. An audit will highlight duplication of effort and areas that require additional investment, allowing an organisation to put its resources to best use. It will also highlight inadequacies in data creation and curation practices, suggesting policy change to lessen the risks faced. An organisation that is knowledgeable about its data puts itself in a position to maximise the value of its collections through continued use.
… a single missing piece will bring down the whole castle.
Broadly speaking, auditing data brings three main benefits:
- prioritisation of resources which leads to efficiency savings;
- ability to manage risks associated with data loss and irretrievability;
- realizing the value of data through improved access and reuse.
It’s only from a position of knowledge that organisations can make informed decisions, auditing data provides such knowledge,
Are there best practice when it comes to data audit?
A combination of technical profiling and user profiling will help you understand where issues are and why they exist.
An annual data audit initiative will continually revise and fine-tune ongoing practices, processes, and procedures for the management and handling of data within the organization.
You can’t do everything at once. Pick a process, see some early victories, gain momentum, and repeat.
Prepare for the audit: Prepare in advance to make the audit process smoother and less time-intensive. Identify and create an inventory of all data sources that are within the scope of your data audit. Use these data sources to understand which users would provide a valuable, insightful interview. Schedule interviews and complete technical profiling.
Conduct audit: Interview relevant stakeholders identified in the audit preparation. Use insight from these interviews to complete user profiling. Update the data sources and data inventory with any information that may have been missed.
Analyze and assess results: Get to the root of the problem through conducting a root cause analysis. Find out why the issues are occurring.
Correct plan: You know what the issues are and you now know why they are being caused. Create the corrective plan through prioritizing initiatives and data activities. Use a combination of short-term and long-term initiatives.
Data is subject to deterioration if not maintained properly.
Seems a painful process, but let’s dig deeper into the benefits
Failure to identify problems with data can result in duplication of effort and general inefficiency. End users tend to loose commitment in tools if results are difficult to obtain or the effort is perceived to be too high for the reward.
If this is the case you will often hear complains from the operators, tools are not working, any request of information will be denied extremely fast as not possible to be satisfied.
9 times out of 10 they are right, but the truth is that the challenges are not due to a poor tool, but simply to the fact that the data on which these software are working is dirty, contaminated and sometimes simply wrong. It’s only from a position of knowledge that organisations can make informed decisions, auditing data provides such knowledge,
Knowing exactly where our data comes from, and being confident of its quality will also allow our infrastructure to prepare sound emergency plans. We have come across few companies that in the event of a data loss, even if absolutely sure to be covered with their backups, have realised, in phase of recovery that not everything was back online. Why? because small sources of data, deemed of secondary importance where actually lost. It’s true that not all data is made equal, and some information are more critical than others, but once you use this data to create tools, analytics and processes, a single missing piece will bring down the whole castle.
Shipping companies are complex, several department have to work together in order to achieve an acceptable level of efficiency, but especially when it comes to tools there is always room for improvements as often companies tend to operate in silos. Very recently during an engagement with one of our Customers we have found that the technical department, when purchasing spare parts, was using a list of suppliers coming from the planned maintenance tool but manually selecting different ones when it was time to create an order for supplies. When asked the reasons for this cumbersome process, the answer was simple. “in the procurement department they have a different list of suppliers, they are actually the same but they call them differently”. These and similar problems bring to a series of inefficiencies and errors, a regular audit will spot this problems, so that you’ll be able to resolve the issue.
The above wants to highlight the importance of knowing your data, knowing that data is subject to deterioration if not maintained properly, and that a regular audit can save a lot of money and improve performances.
If you want to know more or need help with your data please contact us at email@example.com for a free introductory meeting.
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Founder | C-Suite advisor
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