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Data is an Asset

Let me get back to architecture principles and focus on Data this week. Let’s start with TOGAF* principle 10: Data is an Asset. “Data is an asset that has value to the enterprise and is managed accordingly”

I will somewhat agree that all data has some value. In the principle it states that “Data is the foundation of our decision-making”. This is true. Employees, Customers, Vendors use it to make decisions. Your IT systems use it to make decisions. There is a huge difference though between different data in terms of value and importance. Having correct prices on my invoice and charging the right customer is clearly more important than having your pencil purchases properly classified to the “Office Supplies” expense category.

So if you are launching a data is an asset journey at your company start by identifying which data is more important vs other data. Combine that with the business partner you identify as very eager to go down the path of better data. A business partner who sees the urgency of better data in an area important to the business is a great place to start.

Unless your CEO is a data freak don’t go for an enterprise wide data program from the get go. Once you get into it you’ll likely see that creating high data quality in an environment that is shared (and secure) as well as easily accessible is not a trivial journey. This requires changes in people, process and technology that will likely face some resistance.

So the architecture principle here is that the process rigor around data should depend on the value of the data to the enterprise.

But as a general practice if a human has to enter data think about how you can minimize the chance of them entering incorrect information. For example, bar code scanner vs. entering a PO number manually. Or, a drop down selection with only the allowable, valid entry options vs free text.

* The Open Group - The TOGAF® Standard, Version 9.2 > Part III: ADM Guidelines & Techniques > Architecture Principles

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