Data as a strategic tool – 4 simple questions to think about

Do you think about your client management system as a strategic tool?

Most people don’t realise the power of that tool and miss the golden opportunity to collect and use data in a way that inform their organisations strategy. If you’d like to start thinking about data strategically, here are four simple things to consider

  1. Why are you collecting what you are collecting?

Do you make critical decisions about the data you collect from your clients or are you doing what you have always done without revisiting the reason ‘why’? The first step in this process is to review what you are collecting and make sure that there is a meaningful purpose to that collection. If there is no purpose to it then you are wasting time (and time = $$) and intruding unnecessarily in to your client’s personal information. There should be a meaningful purpose to everything you do, if there isn’t then chances are it has no value operationally or strategically.

  • Is your data subjective or objective?

Is the data you are collecting a result of factual information provided by a client or is it the workers opinion? The best data will be objective and measurable. It will be useful to show themes, identify volumes and provide you with purposeful, useful information.

  • How do you know your data is ‘clean’?

Do you know 100% that your data is clean? How do you know that? Who audits it? How regularly? What’s the audit criteria? Well done if you can answer those questions with complete confidence! But if you can’t then the next step is to ensure there is a data quality monitoring process in place and someone is responsible for diligently maintaining it.

  • How can data be used strategically? 

Data can be used to look back or to look forward. Looking back on data should give you a clear picture (especially if you graph it!) of what you have done and how effectively you did it. Looking backwards is useful for reporting, but arguably it isn’t always a lot of help if you are planning for the future. The most valuable data to inform the future is trends and demographics. These can give you a factual picture of where the needs in your community actually lie – which may not necessarily be where you assumed they would be before you had good data evidencing the facts. Good data should inform future strategy and keep your service delivery relevant to your client group.

Need help from the experts? If you need help with how to use your data as a strategic tool then let us know. We are experts at collecting and using data purposefully and we can definitely support you to create a strategic data management plan.

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