What is the data question?
I do data… I’ve been working with data in one way or an other for a huge part of my life. Whether in a small accounts team, collecting and reporting basic figures back into the business, as part of a large business intelligence team, providing large swathes of external information to guide large policy decisions or as the numbers focused partner in my marriage, feeding the “data” into family decisions.
As data people we often find ourselves piggy in the middle.
Our job is to provide the answers that the decision makers need to make the right choices to move things forward and we need the collected information to be comprehensive, correct, accurate and appropriate. To ensure this we get the data collectors on side, making sure they have understanding of what it’s all for. We are a sort of Collectors-Decision Makers, Decision Makers-Collectors dictionary as it were.
We have to work out what the question is
I often liken it to the proverbial “What would you like to drink” question. You need some sort of hint of what is on offer before you try and venture an answer. As a reserved Brit I like an indication whether the host is thinking manic session or cosy cuppa before I ask for a large gin…sorry I meant tea!
Getting the right data collected from the beginning is key. I cannot count the number of times the task of evaluating a project has been scuppered because you have been asked to answer things at the end that weren’t asked at the beginning. Of course there is always going to be a certain amount of questions inspired by some initial analysis, prompting further work.
(What do you want? What have you got? Tea, Coffee, Juice, Water…Oh one of those nights, I’ll have tea please, do you have Earl Gray?!…)
Scoping these things early is becoming even more important, with the introduction of GDPR, it will not be possible to just pull something together at the end. We need to show that there is a plan, and that we have communicated it.
So this is the challenge:
- Get Information involved at the beginning, not the end
- Work out the range of questions that we want to answer and have a think of what might be asked further along the line.
- Ensure all parties know/understand what we are doing and why. Including collectors and the source.
No small feat then…”tea” anyone?