Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Don't ask for data if ...

The first rule of data:
  • Don't ask for data if you don't know what you are going to do with it
Or, said another way (same rule)
  • Don't ask for data which you can not use or act upon
 And, your reaction might be: Of course! 
But, alas, in the PMO there are too many incidents of reports, data accumulation, measurements, etc for which there actually is no plan for what to do with it. Sometimes, it just curiosity; sometimes it's just blind compliance with a data regulation; sometimes it's just to have a justification for an analyst job.
The test:
 If someone says they need data, the first question is how does it add value to what you are doing, and do you have a plan to effectuate that value-add?
Do you have a notion of data limits: enough, but not too much to be statistically significant, and control limits for useful -- or not -- metrics.

And information?
Well, the usual definition is that information is data, perhaps multiple data, integrated with context and perhaps interpreted for the current situation.

So, the rule can be extended: if there are not means to process data into information, is the data necessary to be collected?

Bottom line: To state the obvious: always test for value-add before spending resources

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