This is the first half of my third article inspired by the HESPA data governance conference back in September 2019.

Often the question ‘what skills do I need for this role’ completely misses any consideration of the data skills to be successful in that role. This is both managing data you us, and the skills to interpret data outputs in a consistent and coherent manner.

There’s a view that these skills should be project based. I don’t agree. They should instead form part of the ‘skills package’ every employee understands and values.  Without some clear guidance embedded in the job role, that just isn’t possible. It smacks of a lack of senior leadership focus regardless of some airy words around ‘Our data is a valued asset

Even when it is considered, most of the text I see tends to be very compliance based. Primarily focussed only on risks and not benefits. That’s unhelpful as it’s a proxy for the Data Police watching over you.

So, I’ve created a template which balances both risk and benefit.

Data Skills in a Role Profile

  • You must understand the quality and fitness for purpose of the data you create, compile, change, enrich, use, store and delete.
  • You must understand how to interpret and explain how you use the outputs from this data.
  • You must understand the impact of change on this data to the wider organisation. The minimum requirement is not to make it worse for other people.
  • You must not put the organisation at risk by sharing or publishing the data in breach of compliance and/or regulatory statutes and law.
  • The organisation will support you to ensure you can carry out your stewardship of our data. This will include defining accountability for data, so you know who to ask if you need help, and training to give you the skills to be successful in your role.
  • The organisation will support you if the data for your role is not fit for purpose. We recognise this fitness has a direct impact on your and our customers.
  • If you’re not sure what any of this means, please contact…

Clearly this is not a cut and paste into your organisation. Context is everything.  Also, measurement is not straight forward. But just acknowledging ‘data skills’ in every employees’ job description would be a huge step forward.

The longer post on data skills and data culture is coming soon. In the meantime, I’d be interested in feedback on what I’m proposing here