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DAMA UK

Nurturing a community of data professionals in the UK who champion the value of data management

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RECENT BLOGS

  • 29 Apr 2020 12:29 PM | Mark Humphries (Administrator)

    I’m a data geek, so I tend to see things through the prism of data. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. While some people are glued to the daily theatre of government briefings, I’m looking for reliable sources of information. In particular I’m looking for evidence of how the pandemic is evolving, how long we’re likely to be in lockdown and what is the impact likely to be for me, my family, my colleagues and my clients.

    There is certainly lots of data out there, but how do you filter out the noise, because the data is very noisy at the moment with some very wild claims and data that appears to support such a broad range of positions and theories. The conspiracy theorists are having a field day, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

    My favourite source for information at the moment is the FT. In particular the work of John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) and Chris Giles (@ChrisGiles_). John collates data from around the world to produce a series of daily trackers showing high quality visualisations including daily rates of new cases and deaths, which are the two trackers that I check every day. Chris merges the official daily count of COVID-19 hospital deaths from the Department of Health and Social Care with the weekly total death statistics from the ONS, to produce an estimate of the total COVID-19 deaths.

    There are two things that I really like about their work. The first is that the information is presented in a very clear way. John uses logarithmic scales which means that the slope of the line is the most important thing. A straight line represents exponential growth, and while we were in that very scary phase, the straight line showed very clearly how serious the situation was. The same visualisations are also now showing that lockdown measures are working and both deaths and new cases are coming down. I can see all this in less than 30 seconds every morning. Meanwhile Chris’s visualisations show the difference between weekly deaths now and the five year average, with the implication being that the difference is down to COVID-19, which is clearly much worse than seasonal flu.

    The second thing I like is the fact that they both show their working and they are clear about the uncertainties and the assumptions that they make. John has a useful and informative video clip explaining why he uses the logarithmic scale, where his source data comes from, and what the inconsistencies are. He is open about the fact that the data is very noisy, and what he has done to compensate for this. He has settled on a 7 day rolling average, for example, to smooth out some of the noise in the daily reporting. Chris documents the assumptions that he makes about merging two separate data sources, and he is clear about when and why he changes those assumptions. The fact that they show their working in such a transparent manner, and that they patiently respond on Twitter to questions and criticisms allows me to validate their output for myself, to the extent that I trust it. I feel confident that I understand what their work shows and what it can’t.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is topical, and it’s putting some data under the spotlight, but it’s highlighting some unchanging truths, fundamentals if you like. To make sense of data requires rigour, including understanding where data has come from (lineage), how reliable it is (quality) and what it actually means.

  • 24 Apr 2020 6:02 PM | Lisa Allen (Administrator)

    Hi, I’m Suzanne, I’ve been on the Committee for DAMA for over 3 years and I run the Northern meet ups. Normally we’d meet up several times a year. Here at DAMA we’re not letting Covid hold us back! As we can’t have face to face meetings, today we held a virtual Data Management Northern meetup instead.

    The event was really successful. We had 7 people join us. Hot topics included implementing a data catalogue, data quality skills and tools, data strategy, governance tools, deleting records for GDPR as well as updating data policies, processes and procedures due to home working. We shared our success and horror stories of these topics and gave each other some useful tips and points of contact.

    We will schedule more events in May. I’m afraid we must limit invitees to allow everyone to share their hot topics and get advice from each other. But don’t worry we will book in more, so they’ll be ample opportunity to join.

    Not a member of DAMA yet and want to attend our events? Find out how to join here: Join

  • 24 Apr 2020 1:56 PM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    April 2020, Nigel Turner, Principal Consultant, EMEA

    Over the last ten years I have been lucky to work with a variety of client organisations on Data Governance engagements.   These organisations have ranged greatly in size, complexity and global reach, spanning many industry verticals including government, manufacturing, services, utilities, charities, pharma-technology, insurance and so on.

    Although every client engagement throws up unique challenges and opportunities, there are always three questions which arise time and again, and are key to creating and establishing a successful and enduring Data Governance initiative.  These questions are:

    • How do I convince senior executives and key stakeholders in my organisation that Data Governance is worth investing time and resource in?
    • What data domains, types, sources etc. should be within the scope of a formal Data Governance programme and how should this be determined?
    • How should responsibility and accountability for these data domains be allocated?

    In my previous January 2020 blog, I explored ways of how Data Architecture can help to answer both the ‘What data?’ and ‘How should responsibility?’ questions.   In this blog I will highlight some key tips about how to sell the value of Data Governance to executives and those in your organisation whom you need to get on board to successfully sail (and sell) your Data Governance ship to the new promised land.

    For those of us who work with data every day, we recognise its critical importance and the need to leverage it and so increase its value to our organisations.   We also know that to achieve this we need to make people personally responsible for data through data ownership and data stewardship, practices that are at the core of Data Governance.  But to the people we are trying to convince to give us the backing to make this happen, it’s often not as obvious.  They invariably see the world through a different lens, one where day to day priorities and short term deadlines usually dominate their daily working lives.  So Data Governance has to compete with these for attention, and at best can often be seen as a nice to have, but maybe next year… or the year after.

    So how can you convince people that Data Governance is something to be invested in today, and not in the future after today’s problems are solved?  Here are a few suggestions that might help you to achieve this if this is a barrier for you in your Governance efforts:

    • Show them how today’s problems are often caused by data issues that Data Governance will start to address and solve. To do this first link your Data Governance initiative directly to the priorities and goals of your organisation.  Many businesses want to grow revenues, reduce costs, improve productivity, digitise their processes and so on.  All these aspirations have one thing in common – they rely on good data to achieve them.  Growing revenues usually relies on better marketing; better marketing relies on better data.  Low productivity is often associated with the need to rework orders, invoices etc. because the originals contained errors; errors are often the inevitable outcome of bad data.  Whenever I have been challenged about the value of Data Governance, I often say that Data Governance is not a choice between doing it or not.   Every organisation that manages data (and who doesn’t today) is doing Data Governance now, but usually doing it inefficiently and badly, waiting until problems arise, fixing them reactively and doing the same when the problem rears its head again, which it inevitably will.   That constitutes Data Governance, but is doing it inefficiently and expensively.  Formal Data Governance does it better through being more proactive by preventing problems before they occur.  So the choice is really between how you do it, not whether you do it.
    • Don’t try to sell Data Governance by wide ranging arguments around exploiting data assets, optimising the value of data etc. This is too generic and so meaningless for most people.  Instead be specific.  Talk to a wide range of business and IT people across your organisation about the data problems they encounter every day.  Collect these and create real use cases, for instance a failure of a marketing campaign caused by an inability to target it at the relevant segments of your customer base, or the level of returned packages at the Despatch department because orders could not be delivered because of incorrect or incomplete addresses.  These stories help to bring Data Governance to life by putting real flesh on the bones of your Governance proposition.  It’s a well established scientific fact that people tend to connect with and remember stories far better than broad, sweeping generalities.
    • Link your organisation’s goals and the data dependencies to these specific stories. Use this to show how badly governed data impacts your company’s ability to achieve its overall aims, and use the stories to highlight the day to day realities of these failures.  Doing this helps to link the overall organisational goals with coal face problems, thereby emphasising both the strategic and tactical benefits of a Governance programme as it works to tackle the failures.
    • Once you’ve gathered this evidence, it’s important to develop a sales pitch for investment (finance, people and time) in Data Governance. I always suggest preparing three specific pitches:
    1. A 2 minute ‘Elevator Pitch’. This should simply state what Data Governance is, why your organisation needs it, how are you going to deliver it, and what the expected benefits will be.  It’s best memorised and replayed whenever you need it.  This is useful when asked what your job is and what you are trying to achieve.  It is also valuable when you are part of a Data Governance core team to ensure all members of the team relay the same basic messages.
    2. A 10 minute ‘Taster Pitch’. Create a PowerPoint deck to expand on the above which can be delivered by you and others when you get an opportunity to talk to a senior manager or if you can get an invite to scheduled team meetings held across the organisation.    Try to use pictures to illustrate your key points – again these are more impactful than text lists and remember to include some of the stories you’ve collected.  Use the ones most relevant to the audience of any particular pitch.
    3. A 30 minute ‘Full Pitch’. Expand on the Taster Pitch above to provide a more in depth overview of your Governance plan.  This can be used to brief key potential stakeholders and to convince people to become data owners and data stewards.
    • One final tip, as this is often forgotten when we try to sell the value of Data Governance. When preparing the pitches and talking to others avoid at all costs using jargon and language we often use as data management specialists.  People won’t be inspired to act and support you if you talk in a way that makes it all sound very complicated and difficult.  Using the technical language of data management when talking with non-specialists is a total turn off.  When selling you are trying to connect with people both at an emotional and logical level.  If you want people to be enthusiastic and active participants in your Governance journey, use simple business language that all can understand and relate to.  The great business leaders and orators always use simple language to inspire and motivate others.  You need to do the same.

    Keeping it simple can be hard for many people who end up in a Data Governance role as they often come into it from technical data management backgrounds such as database administration, BI analysis, data quality, metadata management and so on.  Having to actively sell new ways of working to a business and persuading others to act does not always come naturally to those of us with these backgrounds.  So it’s well worth investing some of your time in learning how sales people operate.  Like most things in life, Data Governance won’t sell itself. To paraphrase Dale Carnegie’s classic 1936 book title, you need to win friends and influence people.

    If you have further questions about enabling a data governance initiative in your organisation, you can reach Nigel at nigel.turner@globaldatastrategy.com .

    Nigel will next be running his two day onsite course ‘Data Governance: A Practical Guide’ in London, UK on 19 & 20 November 2020.  For further details see: https://irmuk.co.uk/events/data-governance-practical-guide/ 

    In addition, Nigel is also planning to hold a streamed online version of the course on 18 & 19 June 2020.  This is also being presented in partnership with IRM Training.  Please check https://irmuk.co.uk/#public-courses where further information will be posted in the near future.

  • 9 Mar 2020 1:23 PM | Mark Humphries (Administrator)

    CDMP certification is an indication of knowledge, skills and experience in Data Management. This year we are actively promoting CDMP certification in a drive to boost professionalism across the UK, and we are committed to making it as accessible as possible while maintaining a high standard.

    In January we ran the first of 3 CDMP boot camps in Reading for 20 attendees, all of whom passed the exam. The next two boot camps will be held in Birmingham in September and in Liverpool in November with 20 places available for each course. Keep an eye on our website; once we have confirmed dates and venue, we will be accepting bookings on a first come, first served basis.

    These sessions are aimed at data management professionals who already have a good understanding of the DAMA DMBoK as well as several years of practical experience of working with and managing data. The aim is not to teach data management, but to prepare data management professionals for the exam. The trainer is CDMP Fellow and DAMA International VP for Professional Development Chris Bradley. Chris lead the development of the current CDMP exams, so there is no one better qualified than him to prepare candidates for the exams.

    In order to make certification as accessible as possible, we are running these courses at cost and we do not aim to make a profit. The cost will be £525 for DAMA UK members and £575 to non-members; the £50 difference is the price of a year’s membership, so we hope to encourage non-members to join. The price includes the exam fee (US$311) for the Data Management Fundamentals exam which is taken in the afternoon of the second day.

    For more information on the CDMP exams see CDMP Information

  • 25 Feb 2020 7:39 AM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    By Nicola Askham

    https://www.nicolaaskham.com/blog/2020/2/7/how-to-select-the-right-data-governance-tool

  • 19 Feb 2020 1:13 PM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    Architecting Accountability – Making Data Governance & Data Architecture Work Together

    https://globaldatastrategy.com/global-data-strategy-blogs/architecting-accountability/ 

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