I recently participated on a panel discussion at the Osney Media’s Client Reporting Conference in London that was chaired by Peter Bambrough a management consultant at Citisoft. The topic for the panel was “Data Management: The Critical Issues”, and on the panel I was joined by:
- Philip Keeler, Head of Operations IT, Hermes Fund Investors Ltd
- Bob Simon, Senior Director of Business Development, CorrectNet
The first question that was presented to the panel was “Why do data management projects go wrong?”
My own view point here is that projects I have seen fail were nearly all down to a lack of clear data governance, stewardship and generally poor communication. In order for a data management project to work there has to be a common understanding of the issues at play. Communication is key here, especially between the middle and back office – all teams have to be speaking the same language. Another issue that the data management projects face is the lack of understanding from senior management. As Philip Keeler of Hermes said, “there needs to be a holistic view within the company, senior managers need to be aware of the issues and the implementation processes involved”.
Also when implementing a data management project is it important to break down the project into manageable chunks, make realistic deadlines and achievable goals, this in turn will reduce the risk and make the project less likely to fail.
Some of the interesting points that came out of the discussion with respect to running successful data management projects were:
- Silo approach is only helpful if you have complete view of the landscape
- Warehouse approach to everything is always going to lead to failure as they take too long to implement and the landscape invariably changes before the project finishes
- Better model may to have data warehouses feeding data hubs, from which business unit ‘fit-for-purpose’ data marts are published
- Communication both top-down and bottom-up is critical
- Senior management buy-in to project is essential
- Multi-tiered stewardship
- Governance and stewardship operating hand-in-hand
- Clear understanding of current cost exposure versus the new target state
Another question put to the panel was in relation to getting the right people to work with the data – who are the right people? We know that it is not a job for marketing departments or indeed asset managers. Organizations need to avoid the “Just in Time” data management operating model where a team of client reporting or marketing execs scrub and cleanse the data just prior to publication. This is a critical job and the right people need to be there to ensure that it is being carried out correctly. So who are the right people for the role? It was agreed unanimously that you need to adopt a multi-tiered approach to stewardship – you need stewards operating at the data source level – data analysts – that are comfortable dealing with the low level source oriented quality issues, you need product specialists that are comfortable looking at the data from a product/strategy perspective and you need business analysts working in the front-line teams (client reporting / sales / marketing) that are comfortable looking at the data from a reporting / presentation perspective.
The general consensus among the panel was that communication, understanding the data issues and ensuring the correct people are managing the data are all important elements in the fight against combating data management issues.