Building Trust in Your Data – 10 Steps to Achieve

Building Trust in Your Data – 10 Steps to Achieve

StockSnap_TXHI5TTAYX_TrustDataGuardDog_BP.jpgData governance needs to provide trust in the data for it to be successful.  Higher Education institutions need to trust their data so that they can make effective decision making.  But building trust is not easy.  It is built with having the people and processes in place.  It takes time.  And it is done in steps.

Here are our 10 steps to achieve trust in your data:

1. Start documenting your own reports

Understand your reports by documenting them.  Create a template for documenting a report that is used by everyone.  The report document should be for the functional and technical users. Make sure that you are very specific in defining reporting terms.  And as always, put this documentation somewhere that users can find it easily. 

Build trust by increasing the amount of documentation on the reports that are used.

2. Create an institutional reporting knowledge base

Knowledge is developed one question at a time and is happening now at your institution.  You are probably not capturing all this knowledge.  If you have not done so, create a simple knowledge base where this information can be stored and easily accessed. 

Build trust by establishing a known place where individuals can find the information they need.

3. Make your knowledge base easily shared and accessible

Liberate the knowledge and have it accessible to report developers, data stewards and end users.   Hard to trust what you can't see.  Educate new staff members where the knowledge base is located and provide them the necessary access.

Build trust by having data transparency and having data accessible to everyone involved.

4. Link your delivered reports to the documentation in the knowledge base

When you are running a report written in Argos there are ways, such as having the Data Cookbook in place, to see the documentation in the knowledge base for those data elements.  This commitment to showing this knowledge at the point of running conveys expertise in the data.

Build trust by making information easily accessible right inside the report that the end user is running.

4. Establish and empower data stewards

Select the data steward in each department.  Then make sure that they are training properly and given enough time/support so they can be helpful.  Notify folks on who to contact (these data stewards) when they have a data question or request.

Build trust by empowering knowledgeable individuals that are accessible when others have data questions.

5. Data requests should be a conversation

Communication is key when 2 parties are discussing a project.  When a data request is received, make sure that it is analyzed and questioned.  The report developer should ask more questions regarding the report from the requestor.  And place importance on the purpose of the report request.  Ask  “Why do you need this report”,  not “What do you want on this report”.

Build trust by improving the communication between the data requesters and the report developers.

7. Standardize a report request/change process

People desire a consistent, known process for making requests.  Establish a report request/change process that is the same every time.  And knowing who to contact with a data request gives comfort in the process.  Involve the data stewards in the creation as they will be responding to these requests.  The standard request tool can be in something simple like a Word doc, an Excel spreadsheet, a data governance solution like the Data Cookbook or a ticketing system used elsewhere in the institution. 

Build trust by implementing an easy to use process for data requests.

8. Establish a data quality resolution process

The first step in the process is knowing who to call when there is a data quality issue.  Give people more to do than complaining when they find a possible data quality issue.  By involving the data stewards and having a process, data quality issues can be resolved for the long term and not just apply a band-aid.

Build trust by creating an easy to use process for fixing data quality issues.

9. Rethink your approach to training

Many institutions provide training on the reporting tool rather than the actual data.   We feel more emphasize should be on the data training.  Take the training to the users.  Make the training fun and easy.

Build trust by enhancing the data training given to those that will be using the data.

10. Start small, but think big

Building trust in your data is a big task, so don't try to do it all at once.  Start in one department.  Document your most critical reports first.  Create examples of success and let others know about the success so that they will want that same success.  Focus on you and your own department.  Make that successful first.  But make sure that whatever you do is scalable to the entire institutions.  And you will probably need to give before you can take.

Build trust with continuous changes to your data governance.


Much of the above steps can be explained by:

  • improving the communication between data users and owners
  • having the processes in place
  • having the people in place with the proper training
  • having the documentation in place

We hope that these ten steps were beneficial to your institution in building trust in your data.

Remember that IData is expert at data governance and can provided data governance services to higher education institutions.  If interested in these services or in the Data Cookbook, the leading data governance solution for higher ed, please Contact Us.

(image credit  StockSnap_TXHI5TTAYX_TrustDataGuardDog_BP #1022)

Brian Parish
About the Author

As CEO and founder of IData, Inc., Brian is a well-respected thought leader in the information technology (IT), data governance, and institutional research (IR) for higher education. Brian has worked directly with over 500 colleges and universities to increase their productivity with creative and innovative technology solutions. Since 1995, Brian has had the opportunity to work with most of the major higher education ERP systems, many reporting tools, and integrations with countless vendors used by higher education institutions.

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