How to build a data championship team to solve business problems

By Talend Team

Sometimes it can feel like you’re stranded on a data island, scratching “SOS” in the sand in hopes of catching the eye of anyone who can rescue you. Companies everywhere are facing an explosion of data — with more data sources, more shadow IT, more people demanding access, and a growing number of business problems that can only be solved with data. As your company’s data leader, every one of those problems lands on you.

The good news is that you are not alone. Many companies have begun making it a strategic priority to involve people from every part of the organization in the data management process. Cross-functional collaboration can be one of the most difficult challenges for any organization, but it’s also among the most rewarding — leading to faster improvements and lasting change. To succeed at establishing a culture of healthy data in the long term, you’ll need to promote a data-driven culture that makes people responsible for the data they use, manage, and own.

The core players on your team

Everyone should be able to participate in refining and using the data that drives your business. That’s why the team must come from different departments — you won’t succeed if everyone thinks of it as just a “data problem.”

For example, say your company’s CRM data is a disaster — duplicate accounts, wrong addresses that lead to the wrong territories, incomplete engagement records, the works — and it’s compromising your sales team’s ability to achieve quota. This is a solvable problem, but you need to get support and expertise from around the company. As a new data leader, think about what you need and how you should assemble your team, including:

  • An executive sponsor. It can be hard to get any initiative off the ground without buy-in from the senior executive level. Take this opportunity to connect with your CRO or head of sales and make clear that this is a revenue-driving initiative, not just a data project.
  • A project manager. You will need someone who can keep the big picture for the whole project in mind. This should be someone in a mid-junior level on the data leadership team. They will manage the relationships between departments, executives, and the data quality team. They should promote team visibility during the deployment process.
  • Business users. Users who are not data professionals will help establish real-world requirements and ensure that your project stays focused on tangible business outcomes. Identify a few sales reps who are heavy users of the CRM. They can serve as your data stewards and point out the most obvious flaws while also suggesting improvements that would make them more efficient in the sales process.
  • IT and data engineers. Technical experts will help select and set up the tools you’ll need for long-term success with your data project. They will also be key for solving complex problems and troubleshooting any minor issues that may arise along the way. If you don’t have a CRM expert on staff, you may want to bring in a short-term resource who has experience scrubbing and restructuring the same platform in other companies.
  • Data governance or security professionals. These team members will be key in documenting your data as well as identifying and mapping systems containing sensitive and confidential information that in the wrong hands could put the business at risk. They could be the compliance-minded folks in your organization, outside counsel advising on legal matters with customer data, or security experts with a company-wide mandate. Make sure that you are putting the appropriate permissions and restrictions in place to ensure that while everyone in the company has access to the data they need, you are not at risk of exposing your customers’ personal data.

This core team should meet regularly, both formally and informally. Keep in mind that team members come with different technical backgrounds, a diverse knowledge base, and a variety of business cultures. A data privacy officer with a legal background will have a different point of view from a data architect with an IT background. One will know what data is at risk, while the other will know how to operationalize the data. This diversity will lead to a culture of collaboration that enriches any data quality project.

Help increase support for your own data-driven enterprise with “4 Data-driven Strategies for a Resilient Business”, an eBook that offers a step-by-step plan for getting the right data you need, a checklist for ensuring your data infrastructure has the right capabilities, and real-world case studies on how companies achieved success with their own data initiatives.