Everything in its place - Processes, Data and the Single Source of Truth

Finally, it should be completely clear where all this information can be found.

Have you been in a situation where everyone feels a bit lost because a single person had to skip work? Maybe this person even documented their processes, but you don’t know exactly where these documents are? Maybe some people save them on their computers, while others use Google Docs and others even email, or paper.

You have an amazing team, fully aligned, you have your initiatives defined, a great technology foundation, and even most processes defined but no-one knows where they all are! What a waste!

Imagine instead knowing exactly where all documentation lives. Everything, from all departments, and all teams. No matter what the process is, it can be found in this place, and people know it. With good access control and security, these processes are available to everyone who should have access to them, and no-one else. Great!

When the same is applied to data, we call this a Single Source of Truth, and it’s a fundamental concept for a successful data strategy.

What is a Single Source of Truth

A single source of truth or SSOT is a company’s single reference point for its data to be found. It is not a system, tool, or strategy. Historically, SSOTs have been implemented in many different ways. To this day, there is no best way to implement these. The implementation will always depend on the context of each organization. It’s purpose is to aggregate data from the many systems within an organization and make them available to the right people.

Why is an SSOT needed?

Perhaps the most important benefit of SSOTs is ensuring that organizations operate based on the same standardized version of data across the company. Without a single source of truth, each team, department, or subsidiary of an organization is a potential data silo, isolated from the rest. It also enables better communication between different business units. They will all share the same “language” and information - no more meetings or decisions based on inconsistent numbers by various departments.

Implementing a single source of truth enables decision-makers to make data-driven decisions based on the whole organization’s data rather than from fragmented black boxes.

SSOT should contain everything that can be used to inform business decisions. There is no limit to the kind of data. Everything from customer data to sales data should be there, if relevant to the organization.

Who is responsible for building a Single Source of Truth?

Because SSOTs collect data from the many systems within an organization, it’s critical to give this data responsibility to the right people.

While a dedicated team should be responsible for setting up the single source of truth system, this team cannot be responsible for the data there.

I’m a firm believer that the team that creates the data is also responsible for keeping it updated within the defined quality standards. They are the only ones with the necessary domain knowledge to do so. Therefore, they should be responsible for sharing their data correctly with the rest of the organization.

Responsibility is not to say that they should do it alone. Instead, the different teams should cooperate with the technical team to ensure that the data is processed correctly.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the journey towards optimizing data strategy and operational efficiency often begins with the recognition of a fundamental need: a Single Source of Truth (SSOT). As outlined in the first chapter, establishing an SSOT serves as the cornerstone for aligning processes, data, and organizational goals. It provides a centralized repository for critical information, enabling informed decision-making and fostering collaboration across departments.

In the next chapter, you’ll about a company that applied the Foundation module, including this concept. I hope you like it!