Monday, July 5, 2021

The first rule of data

You can't have too much data .... correct?
Actually, not correct.

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! 

The data plan
You may be shocked to learn that often there is no data plan! 
My experience: In the PMO there are often too many incidents of reports, data accumulation, measurements, inquiries, etc. for which there actually is no plan for what to do with it. 
  • Sometimes, it just curiosity; 
  • Sometimes you're out of your lane and it's really none of your business to know
  • Sometimes it's just blind compliance with a data regulation; 
  • Sometimes it's just to have a justification for an analyst job
  • Sometimes it's a misguided idea that "there can't be too much data".

The tests:
  •  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?"
  • The second question is: "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 to collect, process, and disseminate data.

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