Data Integrity And The Five Rights of Data

A few years ago, I worked with large organisations in the Public and Private sector looking to develop data integrity inside applications to better utilise and surface their data for customer, and employee, operations. In observing Executive teams and stakeholder groups grapple with what data to surface, I coined the term ‘The 5 Rights of data’. The formula was pretty simple, that being:

  1. The Right Data, to
  2. The Right Person, in
  3. The Right Format, at
  4. The Right Time, to make
  5. The Right Decision

I proposed that if any of the first four were wrong, then five was not possible. The theory was based on all four attributes being met to ensure that a timely and accurate decision could be made to assist and move the business forward, and to help meet current and future objectives.

As I stress tested it with my clients, it became apparent that the formula was sound, and that there were significant gaps in organisations storing relevant data in a centralised location, and then gaining access to that data in a timely and efficient manner.

Back then, organisations spoke of time horizons in quarters and years. The lag between gaining access to data, and then making decisions based on that data was anywhere from end of week/month/quarter to 6-12 months. Pre Covid, that sort of time lag was tolerated as businesses had time to adapt to market stresses and competitors.

Why is data integrity important?

Now we find ourselves going through the current challenge that has been brought about by the global Covid pandemic. As with any event that causes financial impact, the current event has created a significant focus on the need to make fast, agile and well informed decisions. In some cases, delaying a decision until next week could mean the difference between solvency and insolvency for some organisations. Now more than ever, ‘The 5 Rights of Data’ and their impact, will, and are, being felt by organisations large and small.

So how does an organisation know if it can make ‘The 5 Rights of Data’ work effectively? What questions should stakeholders be asking to see if they have a system able to uphold the ‘The 5 Rights of Data’?

Here are a few points one could consider (see if you can get the data in 10 seconds or less)

  1. I know who our most, and least, profitable customers are (today, this week, this month)
  2. I know which products are our most, and least profitable(today, this week, this month)
  3. I know how many times we turn our inventory over (this week, this month, this year)
  4. I know our cash position (today vs yesterday, this week vs last week, etc.)
  5. I know how quickly we collect our receivables
  6. I know our resource utilisation (today vs yesterday, this week vs last week, etc.)
  7. I know our liquidity ratio
  8. I know our days in accounts receivables
  9. I know project profitability (across all projects)
  10. I know our budget versus actual position (by period)

If the points above were not readily available (in 10 seconds or less), then the potential ramifications of not meeting the first 4 ‘Rights of Data’ to be able to make the 5th, could have dire implications for your business. The reality is that in the modern landscape of software platforms, technologies exist that would easily enable the 10 points above to be answered in real time, thus enabling a business to make the rapid decisions necessary to navigate the current economic climate and beyond.

If you’re not working with a netsuite partner who can support your business to operate in an environment where you have data integrity and can comfortably meet ‘The 5 Rights of Data’ then perhaps it’s time we had a chat.

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