Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Three Tips for Building a Data-Based Strategy

ARCHIVES
Max Griboedov/Shutterstock.com

In a recent article titled “Can Transparency by Legislated?” Paul Eder of the Center for Organizational Excellence makes the case that the availability of data in government is not enough to ensure transparency. Eder writes, “One can draw any potential number of conclusions from data in its raw form.” The question for government leaders then is how to provide that context? How do you justify the decisions you make based on the data available?

Government leaders are under scrutiny to show that they are correctly investing their limited resources (time and money), but simply providing the data is not enough. They have to be able to justify these investments to their managers and stakeholders. And if your stakeholders or those under you do not understand why the decision was made, your efforts may not be as successful as they could be.

So how do government leaders go about justifying their investments?

Collect and understand the data. There is an explosion of data available to government leaders. It provides a fertile field from which to begin your planning effort. But you also need to understand the limitations of that data. Know how it was collected and for what purpose. Those factors will shape your understanding of it. In other cases, you won’t have access to large data sets. As we’ve written before, not all data needs to be big data. There are many ways to interact with your stakeholders and customers to collect data points that are low cost, effective, and do not violate Paperwork Reduction Act or the Federal Advisory Committee Act. 

Involve customers and stakeholders in the data analysis process. Once you’ve collected your data, use your customers and stakeholders to help you provide context and meaning. Start by theming your data or consider visualizing it to uncover connections and relationships. This will help your customers and stakeholders better understand the data and provide input on what conclusions can be drawn from it and ultimately what actions can be taken based on it. In this phase, you want to cast a wide net and get all the input you can.

Use weighted criteria to prioritize. Now that you have broad input on what kinds of conclusions, hypotheses and actions you can take based on your data, these need to be judged against a set of criteria. What are the most likely factors to affect the prioritization of your range of actions? This can include many factors, including potential rewards (how big are the potential benefits of this action?), feasibility (how easily can this action be achieved?) and impact (how far reaching will this action be?) After you land on a given set of criteria, give each of them a weight. Then you can judge all available options against the weighted criteria and score your options.

As a government leader, once you have used stakeholders to gather data, thought about all possible actions based on the data, and weighted them against a determined set of criteria, you’ve taken a large step to justifying the investments and decisions you are making.

Chelsea Matzen is an operations associate at Corner Alliance.  

(Image via Max Griboedov/Shutterstock.com)

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.