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How to Move Up on the Data Maturity Scale

Jessica Gershman

Data and Analytics Director, Forum One

Identifying where your team or organization is in terms of using your data to achieve your goals allows you to understand your organization’s data maturity. What are you able to show with your data? How does data impact your business processes or goals?

Everyone has data. Some organizations have whole teams of people who track and analyze data. Other organizations have a single data analyst or someone who simply checks the Google Analytics numbers each month, with little contact with metrics outside of that. 

Below is our outline of the four steps of data maturity as a way to evaluate how advanced and integrated your data is across your organization. No matter where you are on the spectrum, there are steps you can take to improve your data maturity. Identify where you are, and learn what you need to do to move up and increase your data maturity. The ultimate goal is to advance your data maturity to the final stage, where data-informed decisions are seamlessly part of your organization’s workflow.

Step 1: Data-Aware

In this stage, you know what data you have, but now the goal is to standardize your data collection. Look at all the different places you’re getting data across multiple sites and systems — CRMs, social media, website, email, etc. — and compile the metrics in one place. This will ensure that you’re not missing anything important. 

How to advance to the next step

  1. Review your current analytics tracking tools. Are you collecting and tracking the right things?
  2. Confirm the validity of data collection. Does anything look off? Is there a tool you need to understand better or reconfigure for accuracy?
  3. Develop a baseline of performance. Look at your historical data over the past 18 months to a year to identify any trends. How does your past performance compare to where you are right now?
  4. Identify any major gaps in data collection. Are you tracking everything you need?

Step 2: Data-Proficient

You have streamlined all of your data sources, know what you’re tracking, what the current numbers look like, and you’ve likely built out some goals. At this stage, you’re tracking your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a monthly or quarterly basis (depending on what is feasible for your team and resources) and hopefully, you are looking past vanity metrics and know which metrics to focus on

How to advance to the next step

  1. Set up a plan to make sure you check your numbers regularly.
  2. Reference dashboarding tools and Google Analytics to understand the trends in your audience’s awareness and engagement.
  3. Determine what enhancements or additions you may need for your tracking and reporting systems. Could certain data collection processes be automated? Have you discovered additional gaps in the data you’re collecting?
  4. Make sure that the data you’re collecting across different tools and platforms (e.g., MailChimp, Salesforce, and Google Analytics) use consistent tagging and naming conventions so you can map audience engagement and key conversion points between those platforms.

Step 3: Data-Savvy

At this stage, the data you have will start to be used to inform decision making and drive key initiatives. People across the organization are aware of the data, and engaging with it regularly. 

How to advance to the next step

  1. Initiate an analytics reporting cycle and get buy-in from leadership about how and why the data is used
  2. Leverage historical data collection and analysis to make strategic decisions critical to your organization’s mission
  3. Continue to evangelize the importance of data across the organization

Step 4: Data-Informed

This is the ideal state of data maturity. At this stage, you have a fully built-out data program and a clear framework to govern how your organization is using data every day. You have successfully built alignment across different teams within your organization — including IT, Marketing, and Program teams — to ensure everyone is working together to maintain the accuracy and integrity of your data and reporting systems. 

People across your organization are viewing the data regularly. Your data is embedded in your work across the entire organization and is used to enhance efforts across different initiatives.

How to continue to optimize

  1. Leverage regular reporting to identify growth opportunities.
  2. Refine tactics to continue working on established goals.

Ready to advance your data maturity? We can help!

Forum One’s data and analytics team works with some of the most influential mission-driven organizations to define and execute the best ways to use data for positive change. Get in touch today; we’d love to see how we can help make sense of your data.

Written By

Jessica Gershman

Data and Analytics Director, Forum One