Dec 2020

5 Tips for Your Data Journey

We know that solving data problems in your organization is challenging work and that the technical aspects can be daunting. But, improving how you "do data" is not just about collecting better information or conducting more sophisticated analysis. It's also about setting goals, managing change, and telling powerful stories.

Here are five tips for accelerating your progress that don't require stats or coding skills:

1. Look for time savings

Saving time on routine data tasks is an important part of improving your practices and it will free you up to focus on upping your data game. Look for low hanging fruit such as manual processes that can be simplified or better documented. For end-to-end automation, Purpose Analytics can write small applications that transform your data with a single mouse click.

2. Take a self-assessment

Understanding where you are at is important for knowing where you are going. Data Orchard's Data Maturity Framework is a great tool for bringing perspective to where your organization sits on the data proficiency spectrum and for envisioning your desired future state. Evaluate your progress across the seven themes in the framework and pick the weakest one as a starting point for your efforts.

3. Work with what you have

Iterative, incremental change will move you more rapidly towards your goals whereas large, complex projects tend to put a pause on progress while you prepare for implementation. Consider splitting major projects up into smaller steps and rolling these out in phases across small teams rather than your entire organization. Similarly, try to solve problems that are within your control before shopping for new tools. Switch tools when you "outgrow" them rather than looking to them to solve your problems.

4. Answer a new question

It is easy to fall into a routine that follows annual reporting cycles. Staying curious will help to ensure that your data isn't just serving funder priorities, but that it benefits your organization and community. For example, if you haven't done so before, consider visualizing your data in a map. Seeing your data spatially is a great way to stimulate new questions and tell a compelling story. Purpose Analytics can turnaround maps as a next-day service.

5. Talk to others

Organizations often underestimate the value of experience when it comes to data. The reality is that there are almost always others that have travelled a similar path before you and that can provide advice and direction that will save you time and heartache. Similarly, your experiences may be valuable to others who are just getting started. The next time that you find yourself researching best practices around data, be sure to reach out to your peers.

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