What’s the value of data engineering?
Meet Mark. Mark was an analyst at a non-profit that offered job-training to disadvantaged populations. The non-profit was structured as a social enterprise that operated restaurants, cafes, catering, etc. Mark was accountable for rolling out a new ERP system that would digitise inventory management, automate food costing and cost-of-goods, and offer one-stop-shop dashboards and reporting.
Unfortunately for Mark, the sales and labour data came from different source systems, and the catering process was separate and distinct from the rest, and none of them had consistent data structures or formats. Mark was able to implement a fragile system of data mapping and file sharing, but the process often broke down and took days or weeks to recover. Mark was also a single point of failure, and the KPI reports that he produced required an hour of copying, pasting, and formatting for consumption.
Mark worked hard and did his best to do what he was asked, but his problem was that he lacked a framework for understanding fundamental approaches to data. Mark wasn’t a trained engineer; he was just an analyst promoted up through the operations. He had the capacity, but unfortunately, not the skills.
This scenario is incredibly common in today’s businesses. When experts talk about ‘digital transformation’, they’re talking about people like Mark – floundering under the weight of mismatched needs and abilities.
Data projects are nuanced and require the tribal knowledge of people like Mark. In fact, the Marks of the world are often indispensable – providing business-critical analysis to leaders and executives. Why, then, do so many businesses look at data as an IT problem? Often because they’re the only ones with the skills to solve it. We think this is wrong; data is not an IT problem and new tech alone is not a solution, it’s a business opportunity with an operational solution, and the approach is what will make all the difference.
This is one of the many insights that we’ve gained in our 14 years of managing data, and it’s one of the reasons we developed The BizCubed Method. The BizCubed Method is more than a platform or set of rules, it’s a comprehensive approach that leverages an organisation’s existing resources to add capacity, reduce risk, and deliver better outcomes. The method is premised on the belief that data transformation can be reduced to building better organisational habits, and that operationalising repeatable, scalable patterns is a more efficient route to optimisation than expensive consultations and sweeping overhauls. At BizCubed, our approach to data is simple: just get on with it.
The BizCubed Method is best visualised using BizCubed’s Data Maturity Model. Each of the 11 components represents one pillar of the method. We use this framework to evaluate the maturity of an organisation’s data processes. An organisation is scored on a scale of 1-5 (1 = ‘Ad-hoc’, 5 = ‘Automated) for each of the 11 components, and a plan is then drafted to address the biggest gaps first.
But a score and a plan would not have been enough to help Mark. What Mark really needed was practice. He needed to help his organisation build stronger data muscles. That was always going to take time, diligence, and hard work, but it could have been accelerated – that’s the value of The BizCubed Method. The systems and processes are designed to jumpstart organisational transformation and drive incremental improvements over time.
Over the next 12 weeks, we will dive deep into each of the 11 components of the BizCubed Method – using Mark and his non-profit as a working case study. We will introduce the features of each component, discuss the benefits, and articulate the value to both the end user and the organisation. We’ll conclude the series in much the way we’re starting – looking at the 11 components as a collective whole, and how those form the building blocks of BizCubed Data Engineering and Enablement Platform, and why we believe that this platform is best delivered as a service. We invite you to join us on the journey and look forward to answering any questions you have along the way.