sample data inventory

A:360 Podcast #10 – What is a Data Inventory?

Today’s A:360 discusses the significance of a data inventory when beginning your data and analytics program. From understanding what data sources and applications your organization possesses to understanding in what format each data source is stored, a data inventory is a critical first step towards building a sustainable analytics program.

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Hey everyone. Welcome to today’s A:360. My name is Brewster Knowlton, and today we’re going to be answering the question, “What is a data inventory?”

A data inventory is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It’s an inventory or a list of all data sources and applications used throughout your organization.

To gather a data inventory, I’d recommend you go through the process of interviewing members of each department throughout your organization. Interview the various staff that are interacting with all of the applications that are driving the business processes – from the C-suite all the way through the organization to all of our front line staff. To gather that data inventory, we’re going to gather all of these people and perform the discovery process which I’ve alluded to a number of times. This is the crux of what makes your data strategy opportunities so successful.

As you’re interviewing these individuals, every time you hear about an application that they use or a system they go to or an Excel file (where maybe they’re keeping track of something) or an access database, that is something you want to add to your data inventory. As you go through the process of these discovery interviews and compiling this data inventory, you’re going to want to capture a few pieces of information about each aspect and each item of the data inventory.

  1. The name of the application
  2. The format that the data resides in. A database? Excel File? Flat files?
  3. Who is the owner of the application? IT? A group or individual within a certain department?

After you identify all of these data sources that comprise the data inventory, you’ll want to go through and identify priority levels for your analytics program. These are the applications that should be integrated first and are of most importance and highest priority. This next group, called the medium priority group, are going to be the more “would like to haves” as opposed to the “need to haves”. Go through that process of prioritizing each data source and this will actually help you build out your roadmap for how you’re going to build your analytics platform.

It’s important to keep track of any changes to the data inventory as programs get de-provisioned, or as you bring new applications into your organization. You’ll want to keep track of these changes. Also, some core systems in the banking and credit union world are changing from a legacy database to a more modern relational database. You want to have that reflected in your data inventory as well so you have the most up-to-date information for each application.

That should give you a pretty good picture of what a data inventory is, what should be included in one and why it’s important.
In the YouTube videos that are attached to this or in the transcription if you head over to our website, you’ll see a sample of what a data inventory could look like, and you could use this for creating your own data inventory as well.

That’s it for today. Thanks again for listening to today’s A:360.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: A:360 Podcast #14 - What is a Report Inventory? - The Knowlton Group

  2. Pingback: A:360 Podcast #16 - Measuring Analytics ROI - The Knowlton Group

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