Stop Biting Your Tail When it Comes to Your Data

We have many clients come to us saying, “I want a fancy dashboard that perfectly displays all of my data with sleek graphs that any user can have access to.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but what most don’t realize is that the pretty dashboard with the clean metrics is the very last part of a data project, the “tail end” if you will.

Data projects often run late, are over budget, and/or do not meet initial expectations. Here we will explain why this happens so often, and how you can avoid biting your tail with your data by taking the proper steps to ensure your project runs smooth:

Not Fully Understanding the Scope

The way data is used today is still very new. Therefore, many companies are struggling to keep up with the proper knowledge and competencies needed to fully understand their data and use it effectively as a resource. When used correctly, data can become the most valuable asset of an organization.

So, when companies take on data projects, more often than not they don’t fully understand just how large the scope is, and that is why so many data projects fail.

Our Recipe for Data Success

Creating a data-driven or data-ready organization requires stakeholders and departments to work together from the very beginning to assess expectations and define dataflows.

Then, organizations must work to ensure their data is properly collected, stored, cleaned, transformed, analyzed and made accessible. ONLY once all of this has taken place can we add the cherry on top: the dashboard and reporting. In order to reach this “tail end” of your data project, here are the steps your organization must take first:

1. Define Your Business Objectives

Business objectives are what you want to achieve and where you want to go. In order to define business objectives your organization must first create a measurement plan:

In the template above, for each objective, there must be strategies you implement in order to reach these objectives. Then, for each strategy, you must have performance metrics to monitor and track whether or not objectives are being met.

2. Align Your Measurement

We can say from experience that it is very rare when an organization has aligned their data measurement capacities with their objectives properly. To reach your objectives, you have to measure your performance to understand what is working and what is not. This can be accomplished through a data audit, which is a crucial step in determining the total scope of the data project and can inform of any potential risks. Next, the tracking and the configuration of your current technology stack needs to be upgraded.

3. Manage Your Dataflow

Once your audit is completed and your measurement is set up, the next step is efficient data management.

This step is important because you need to be able to accurately document and track the dataflow and any actions taken from the initial collection of raw data all the way to its’ final state.

Data mapping is a trace document that enables you to always understand the job that was performed on the data and catalog changes so anyone can refer to it and have access to the full history of the dataflow from start to finish.

Most of us have been in that meeting where the analytics guy comes and presents stats with his fancy analytics tool, then the marketing guy comes with his spreadsheets and shows completely different stats, and then the sales director comes in with his business intelligence (BI) tool and presents yet again different stats.

Data mapping provides one source from which to work from so that all stakeholders in the organization can agree on the accuracy of the data. In short, accurate data mapping provides one simple “source of truth” for all parties involved in data projects. THIS is the part when your data becomes accurate and everyone can trust it.

Extra Tip: Remember when it comes to your data to keep things simple. Don’t fall prey to thinking you need to have an expensive top-of-the-line data warehouse or “data lake.” Unless you are Twitter, simple is better. Something like a Google Drive table (spreadsheets in the cloud) or an SQL database is more than enough to do the job.

4. Benefit From Your Data

Now that your company has clean and ready to use data you can trust, your stakeholders are now empowered with usable data.

Any employee, even non-technical, now has access to self-serving information. Your organization is now data ready and can use data to make informed business decisions instead of guessing at what might work. Users and high-level executives can now see data visualized in automatic reporting tools and dashboards such as Google Data Studio or other Business Intelligence platforms.

The much-anticipated result of the data project has now been realized, with a final deliverable that everyone can easily access and even enjoy.

Once you have followed our recipe for data success the sky is the limit! Now let’s talk about those cool dashboards you’ve been wanting to see…

Now you know the secret.

Still struggling with collecting or storing your data or have more questions about the process? Enlist the help of Zima Media for your own data project by contacting us today and you’ll never waste money or time on your data projects ever again.

If you are looking for even quicker ways to become data ready? has automated services for your advertising needs. You can have your dashboard up and running in just 5 clicks!

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