Assessing your data management capabilities


business meetingIn my last post, I discussed some practical steps you can take to collect the right information for justifying why your business should design and implement a data strategy. Having identified weaknesses in your environment that could impede business success, your next step is to drill down deeper to determine where there may be opportunities to impose best practices in data management. Doing this will require you to assess your current state of data management capabilities and maturity in relation to the capabilities needed to support ongoing business needs.

This assessment surveys three aspects of the ways information is managed at your organization:

  • System inventory. This is a catalog of the systems and applications that create or use data. This catalog will document the number of systems, and for each system list its data volumes, the number of data consumers, a list of downstream dependent systems, the data sources, and whether the system was internally designed and built or acquired from an external provider. In addition (if possible), it will provide access to the metadata associated with each system, including business terms and definitions as well as data models and the corresponding data element definitions.
  • System development life cycle. Understanding the methodology for how systems are designed, developed, implemented and maintained will shed light on the practices in place for overseeing how information is managed.
  • Data management maturity. This process examines a number of different facets of data management and governance within the organization. That can include:
    • An operating model for data stewardship and governance.
    • The processes by which data policies are defined, agreed to and deployed.
    • The operational procedures for data quality assessment, data validation, and incident reporting and management.
    • Definitions and adherence to data modeling and reference domain standards.
    • Aspects of the data life cycle, such as requirements analysis, data security and protection, and retention.
    • Methods for continuously monitoring observance of data consumer expectations.

The result of this assessment will be a report on your current state of internal data management capabilities. You can compare this to the proposed levels of capability identified during the initial business justification task. In my upcoming posts, I will look at developing a blueprint and road map for your data strategy.

Serious about your enterprise data strategy? Read more in this article.


About Author

David Loshin

President, Knowledge Integrity, Inc.

David Loshin, president of Knowledge Integrity, Inc., is a recognized thought leader and expert consultant in the areas of data quality, master data management and business intelligence. David is a prolific author regarding data management best practices, via the expert channel at and numerous books, white papers, and web seminars on a variety of data management best practices. His book, Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager’s Guide (June 2003) has been hailed as a resource allowing readers to “gain an understanding of business intelligence, business management disciplines, data warehousing and how all of the pieces work together.” His book, Master Data Management, has been endorsed by data management industry leaders, and his valuable MDM insights can be reviewed at . David is also the author of The Practitioner’s Guide to Data Quality Improvement. He can be reached at

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