Over the last 10 years, I have led numerous data management assessments across a variety of organisations. I have done this using established frameworks like the EDM Council's DCAM, custom frameworks, and conducted health checks against regulatory guidelines like APRA's CPG 235. There are many good reasons why an organisation might undertake an assessment exercise, such as understanding strengths and weaknesses, establishing a baseline, and measuring progress. Another common motivation is to develop a roadmap for data management. However, transitioning from the assessment findings to a practical roadmap is often a challenge for many organisations.
Let me illustrate this challenge with an anonymised example from a real-life assessment I conducted. Below is a chart showing the organisation's assessment scores against the Decaf Data framework.
When I look at this visualisation, there are certainly a few things that stand out as interesting. We can see a low score in the areas of data stewardship and relatively higher scores in the areas of vendor management and security, for example. Despite these insights, the visualisation was not immediately actionable, a common stumbling block in the journey from assessment to roadmap. In my experience, organisations, especially those early in their data management journey, often find their capabilities clustered within a narrow score range. This clustering makes prioritisation difficult. Further, just because something is scoring poorly, does that mean we should prioritise it? Perhaps it's scoring poorly for a reason, perhaps it's not that relevant or important for this business.
To overcome this in practice, I sometimes adopt a method where participants assess the importance of each capability in achieving their business objectives over the next one to three years. I either ask participants to do this as part of the assessment exercise or in a post-assessment workshop. This exercise allows us to plot capabilities in a matrix considering both their importance to the business and their current maturity. This visualisation is shown below, where you can see the original scores are on the vertical axis, but the importance the business places on this capability is on the horizontal axis.
If you look at the final visualisation below, the area that I've highlighted in green represents those capabilities that have the lowest scores in terms of the organisation's maturity but have been identified as having the highest value or most importance in terms of supporting the business objectives over the next one to three years. Those are likely the areas the organisation should prioritise—those are the high-value but low-maturity data management capabilities.
If you are planning a data management assessment, then please reach out to discuss how Decaf Data can help.