6 tips for spring cleaning the data basement

Scrubbing data isn’t a glamorous  job – just an essential one.

It’s so important that Tech Republic ranked it #2 in their recent list of 10 things you should do when building your Big Data strategy, right after “understand your business objectives.”

DataCleaning_istockphotoNo wonder, then, that data management is getting a lot of attention in the investment industry. At the recent “NICSA in the Middle” Conference focusing on middle office issues, representatives from Beacon Consulting, BNY Mellon Asset Servicing, DST Global Solutions, Eaton Vance and Pioneer Investments shared this advice for IT groups planning data projects:

  1. Balance short- and long-term goals. Address the immediate issues, but in a way that advances strategic projects.
  2. Start with reference data. If the basics aren’t right, nothing else will be.
  3. Realize that IT can’t drive this project on its own: Explain the benefits of the project to the business sponsors to get their support. Identify a project champion within each business group. Communicate extensively with everyone who’ll be involved with data maintenance going forward, especially portfolio assistants and the investment operations team.
  4. At the same time, create accountability for the quality of the data going forward.
  5. Be prepared for people’s proprietary attitudes about “their” data. Asking them to give up their spreadsheets can be a huge pain point. Help them understand the value of sharing data.
  6. Recognize from the start that, at some point, you will need to ask portfolio managers to scrub data. Understand that this will take time.

In addition to these tips, the speakers gave this overarching caution:

  • It doesn’t matter how good the data is if it isn’t being used.

In other words, at the end of the day, the most critical thing is to make sure that the project matches business objectives.

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