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When Data Remains Data

Have you ever used something once and then put it aside where it only collects dust? Unfortunately, data often has the same type of journey. Typically data is collected and then put aside, never to be used again.

Jeff Neal, Senior Vice President of ICF International, sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program to discuss how governments can better utilize the data they collect.

Neal began by admitting that there is a critical need to collect a lot of data. Govies collect data on individuals as they apply for a job in a respective agency and once hired, govies also have to collect data to accept them as a new employee (i.e. social security number (SSN), mailing address, etc.).

Once all of this has been accomplished, agencies are then responsible for collecting data to evaluate how the departments are carrying out their missions and on individual employee evaluations.

However, a lot of data is difficult to store. The first issue govies face is the lack of linkage between the data collected in the hiring process and the data they have in the performance process. One reason for this is a lack of consolidated information. Neal explained that “there is a massive amount of information required, but what happens is it is generally in a bunch of different systems.” Basically, the data is not compared with one another-there is a clear disconnect.

According to Neal the data you already collect in the hiring and performance evaluation processes are probably the two pieces of information most fertile for trying to get into analytics and to start using data for something other than just recordkeeping. Strategizing about how to best utilize this information is an investment in long-term success.

Being active with the data that already exists on these two crucial areas is necessary to better the agency overall. Proper analysis can help govies learn how to either rectify an issue or continue to implement the processes that work.

Govies can utilize the consolidated information to better their hiring and management processes. Neal remarked that a main reason why agencies do not create a set system to handle these processes is because it would require a lot of work…initially. Although this may be true, Neal advises agencies to think long-term.

He noted data management “is like learning to ride a bicycle. You are going to fall off a few times and you are going to scrape your knee, but then you are going to use that bicycle for the rest of your life. You will always be able to use it.” Govies need to create a system to analyze the data once and then it will be as easy as riding your bike…again!

Don’t let your data go to waste. Don’t let your data collect dust. Take Neal’s advice and “get started with the hard work that is necessary to actually make these very important processes work well.”

If you wish to read more about Neal’s work in this area: Managing With Blinders On at ChiefHRO.com.

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