Archive: September, 2019

Chasing a jet plane with a horse

Given the size and complexity of procurement data sets, it is often difficult to identify exactly where it is wrong and to explain it succinctly to people who are senior enough to hold a big enough budget to get it right. A recent article in Supply Management answers the question why clean data is essential. It points out that the move to cloud-based technology as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to cleanse data. The opportunity is to address the different types of data, data silos, non-standard interfaces for accessing information, quality and duplication are all issues, for example, multiple versions of the same supplier in different legal entities.

There are two ways to address the problem: cleanse existing data, which is typically done by the team affected; or invest in improved technology or processes to prevent new sources of unclean data.

A more interesting question is why organisations continue to muddle through with inaccurate and incomplete data. I think the answer is that clean data requires more time and money than many organisations are prepared to invest. To overcome this barrier, organisations should treat cleansing data like any other project and apply an enterprise grade approach.

  1. Create a business case and continually review it, and if necessary, terminate the parts of the project that no longer meet the criteria
  2. Set up an organisation to support the project including a sponsor
  3. Manage the project in stages and learn from experience

To ensure there’s enough resources, the project must prioritise the parts of the organisation’s data – procurement, production, customer, HR and finance – that offer the greatest return on investment. Anything less will feel like chasing a jet plane with a horse; you’ll never catch up, because the data is constantly changing.