<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=520757221678604&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Aimee Pagano

By: Aimee Pagano on February 14th, 2024

Print/Save as PDF

Data literacy counts: is your org getting the grade?

data integration | data activation | business requirements

mailto:demo@example.com?Subject=HighRoad Solutions - interesting article
Data is abstract. Complex. Multi dimensional. It has wide-spread application and needs a lot of grooming for performance. It’s no wonder there’s often confusion and malaise around it. 
From an organizational perspective, however, all staff should have an optimal level of data literacy in order to put their data to action. Literacy doesn’t just apply to Data Analysts or Data Operations Managers. No, every individual within an organization should have a base level understanding of what data is available, how it’s organized, how it works, and how to upkeep it according to governed standards.
Getting your org holistically proficient in data can be challenging, particularly when association professionals are innately diverse in skill sets. But if you parcel out the data competencies, your data academy suddenly looks much more achievable. 

So let’s break down the five competencies your organization should have a handle on when it comes to data literacy: 

1—Data Foundation
Understanding data often seems like learning another language. And it is to a degree. You’re wrapping your head around a lot of new terms and concepts. Once you have general data fundamentals and nomenclature, it’s much easier building familiarity with your own data sets.
Getting your org around the language that is data is the first step to data literacy.  There are a number of data glossaries out there—including your org's internal documentation—to help your association take that first step.
Tool to get the grade
  • Your organization's Business Glossary (all terminology including data)
  • HighRoad's Data-"Splainer"
2—Data Direction
Data, like anything, needs purpose. That means, organizational objectives should be clearly communicated and initiatives around data centralization, data integration, and business requirements should be discussed at org-wide scale. This gives your staff context around data-based initiatives and fuels the start of change management discussions.

For every field, list, value, it should be assumed that there’s goal alignment. Data with intention is a powerful tool. As such, organizations need to set intent at the onset of data collection. They need to make decisions on what data has a place, and what doesn’t. More than anything, they need to put their data to action. This direction needs to come from the top. It needs org wide acceptance and accountability. And it needs to be a continual conversation, not an isolated one. 

More than anything, silos must be dismantled when it comes to strategically sharing plans. The drivers should remain the drivers of their plans. But, it’s important that they articulate their plans (through presentations, briefs, etc.) so that all parties have a basic understanding of what’s happening and where data serves its purpose within that plan. There is no such thing as data being assigned to one department versus another. Data democracy needs to be a commitment across all functions. If all departments are treating their contacts as if they’re the only owners, your contacts will soon start to decay from overwear and overshare. So let's get the convo going around data direction:

Tools to get the grade
3—Data Organization
Think how everyone in your household navigates your home. They know where they eat. Where they sleep. What couch is best for snuggles and movie-watching. Where they find the bath towels. Why the Children’s Tylenol is stored at the top of the medicine cabinet shelf. I could go on and on. 

Your data “house” is no different. When it comes to your data, everyone within your org should have an understanding around your organizational taxonomy, governance rules, and SOPs. Standardization should be understood and adhered to across the board. Would your kids suddenly start putting their dirty laundry in the dishwasher? I don’t think so. Because you’ve established house rules rules and boundaries. Your data structure, protocols, and processes are no different. How to set the stage for data organization: 

Tools to get the grade (learn more about these resources)

  • Data Governance Plan
  • Data Dictionary
  • Data Catalog 
  • Data Compliance Handbook
  • Data Continuity Guide
4—Data Activation
Data isn’t there to collect dust. It’s not collected to stay static. As silly as it sounds, it should be seen as a living organism that continues to breathe and evolve. And yes, some data is there purely for recordation and historical purposes. But the majority of data needs to be activated in some way, whether to:
  • Elevate member/customer experiences
  • Improve segmentation and marketing strategies
  • Augment sales efforts
  • Increase program revenue
  • Forecast for the future

As such, it’s important that the data activators within your organization are properly trained on leveraging the data within your tech stack. It’s not enough to get trained on a growth and engagement tool like HubSpot—your teams need to be trained on the data and modernized marketing principles that fuel the tool. That takes into account the two competencies above, along with the resources below: 

Tools to get the grade

  • HighRoad HubSpot + Spark Onboarding (of course slightly smiling face )
  • Platform providers 
  • Integration providers
  • Industry consultants
5—Data Reflection
I think I’m slightly allergic to the “there’s no set it and forget it” phrase because at this point, everyone should know this, particularly when it comes to data. It's still critical enough to be said. Everyone within your organization should have a basic understanding that data—and the insights, action, and revenue that it brings—doesn’t have an off button. If it doesn't, your staff shouldn't either when it comes to handling. 

Building a cadence for reviews around data hygiene, data governance, insight collection, along with all of your org’s go-to-plans should be built into everyone’s rhythm of expectation. It's not really enough to establish ad hoc checkpoints "when you have lulls in schedules." It should be a formalized commitment of time. 

And if the day-to-day gets in the way of data reflection, something needs to give on the day-to-day side so that your entire staff has the breathing room. They need the headroom to think about what their data is bringing them, and in some cases, what it's not. You'll always have a centralized leader (or team of Czars) that take point, but at the end of the day, it's a shared effort. Consider some resources and exercises to get you through it: 

Tools to get the grade

  • Data SOPs: hygiene, revenue-generating, operational, etc.
  • Dashboard Reviews: marketing, sales, services, etc.
  • Checkpoints on Business Requirements: iteratively asking yourself whether you still have the right data sets in place within your tech stack
  • Data Gap Roadmaps: if you don't have the data, what's the plan for getting it

Is your org getting the grade on data?
Learn how HighRoad Spark  + HubSpot  can quickly put you in the results zone. Book a consultation today to learn more

About Aimee Pagano

Aimee joins HighRoad Solution with 15+ years of integrated marketing and communications experience, primarily in client-facing roles within the association and SaaS space. Her specialties include persona development, content strategy/management, lead gen and awareness campaign development, and website development/optimization.