Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started with data can seem daunting, but it shouldn't be. This guide is hopefully a simple way for you to get started. It is not the only way.

This guide is mainly aimed at small social purpose organisations looking to get started with data

What is data?

A rather reasonable question! For the basis of this guide Data is: ' Information which can be used for learning, demonstrating impact and supporting good decisions through reasoning, discussion or calculation'

Why should I care about data?

Ooh, another good question!

Well I would suggest that data can:

  • Help you understand what is working and what can be better within your organisation
  • Help demonstrate your value and impact
  • Help collaboration and better focus collective effort in the right way
  • Be used to influence change or action
  • be really fun and cool, providing hours of joy

Ok, but where do I start?

Well if you are reading this, you already have! Next, I've laid out some simple steps and a few resources to get you started.

Before you get to those though, here's a few thoughts on how to start

  1. Start somewhere
  2. There is a lot you can do with data, but making a start is the most important thing. It is not all or nothing. Start small, learn, build.

  3. Understand what you do now
  4. Every organisation collects and uses data already. Understanding what you currently do and why is an important starting point. Use the Data Discovery Tool to help understand.

  5. Always emphasise why over what
  6. One of the biggest challenges with Data can be cultural. People will respond more to something if they understand why they are doing it. It is also important to start with why because that means you are gathering and storing data for an actual purpose.

  7. Quality over quantity
  8. One of the biggest time drains for anyone working with data is cleaning messy unstructured data. Good quality, 'clean' and structured data is one of the key things to get right.

  9. Just because you can doesn't mean you should
  10. We can gather and use data on most things. That doesn't mean we should. That links to being clear about why you are doing something, but it also important to think about data ethics.

  11. Make it easy and appropriate
  12. Everyone within an organisation has a role to play within any data strategy, but they are not all the same roles. Make it easy for people to play their role. Make collection easy. Make analysis easy. Make presentation easy.

Ok, lets get cracking!
Let's begin