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Develop a data strategy to become more data-driven

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Our Data Champions programme brings funders together to collaborate and learn how to grow a data culture in their organisations. Programme facilitator, Dirk Slater, share insights from the final workshop of the programme, sharing what a data strategy is and how to develop one using our Data Strategy Canvas template. You can read about how we developed the Data Strategy Canvas in this blog from last year’s programme. 

What is a data strategy?

A data strategy should support an organisation to reach its long-term goals. It should directly link and act within the boundaries of an organisation’s overall strategy, rather than be independent of it. Saying that, the Data Champions highlighted that in some cases a short-term and more focused strategy may be useful to enable more immediate data-informed decision making. For some, this might be a strategy to upskill individuals and for others, it might be to improve data quality. 

What is the overall aim of a data strategy?

The group discussed that a data strategy should provide a statement of intent and progress the way the organisation uses data. It should provide guidance and clarity on how better data-use supports other organisational strategies, so as to move towards the overall vision.

Who is it for? 

The data strategy should serve everyone working in the organisation and demonstrate how their role contributes to enhancing the organisations data-use. The Data Champions also highlighted that the strategy will be of interest to external stakeholders such as grantees, and therefore should be relevant to them. 

 

“A data strategy must support the overarching strategy. Data should be embedded as a tool within the organisations strategy to support it to deliver.” – Dirk Slater, Data Champion programme facilitator

Create your data strategy canvas

The Data Champions developed their own Data Strategy Canvases relevant to their organisations using the Canvas template that we developed last year. The template highlights the areas to think about and poses questions to prompt reflection and planning. 

Make your own data strategy canvas – download the PowerPoint template, answer the questions and use the template to:

  • drive your next strategy meeting,  
  • kick-start new data projects, 
  • build a data culture in your team
  • support and complement knowledge sharing activities.

Next steps, act on the learning

At the end of the workshop we asked the Data Champions what they would do next to create or develop a data strategy. We’ve organised and grouped their ideas into two areas: understanding the circumstances, and engaging staff. 

Understand and develop

  • Start by looking at the stated goals of our organisation’s strategy and the ways we’re using data to achieve them.
  • Find out where current data strategies are held within the organisation and review them. Are they seen as a tool or a tick box? Then start the conversation about how data can be used better.
  • Develop the processes and templates for data collection and usage that we’ve piloted and could use in future, as standardised components of a data strategy. 

Staff engagement

  • Convince our Senior Management Team that they are already data people!
  • Discuss with other data focused colleagues how we can implement developing a data strategy and building a data culture across the organisation. 
  • Bring everyone in the organisation together to discuss our needs for a data strategy – do we need one? Should it sit within policies/strategies we already have? 
  • Use the Data Strategy Canvas as a starting point to ask questions. 
  • Help everyone to understand the important role they play in data collection and reporting and that data isn’t just numbers.  
  • Agree that developing a data strategy can be an objective in my work next year. Then start implementing, using and working on all the questions in the canvas doc, working with all the internal teams!

 

“We’ve created working groups for ‘data-doers’ and ‘data-users’. They both feed into each other, and feed up to senior staff who can collate that knowledge. ” – 360Giving Data Champion

Have you read our other educational blogs?

This blog is the final one in our series that shares insights from the Data Champions programme 2020-21. Have you read our others? We cover many topics including understanding your data workflow and addressing confirmation bias to help you work more effectively with data and grow a data culture in your organisation. Have a browse of them on our blog page

 

If you have found this blog useful or have any feedback, we’d love to know! We also welcome ideas for blogs and other content from our community, to help enable better use of data for funding organisations. Drop us an email at comms@threesixtygiving.org.