Data is a critical asset of every business. It needs to be managed properly in order to deliver services effectively. If we do not manage our data, we will be maintaining and collecting data that is not needed. Data quality, integrity and security of information may be compromised. We are painfully aware of identity theft and the risk of unprotected data to our business. To effectively manage our information we must be able to answer the following questions:
- What data do we currently have, how is it classified, what if any are the security constraints?
- What data needs to be collected or created to support our business?
- What are our current and future needs for data storage and maintenance?
- Who will access the data, how will they access it?
- What are our disposal considerations, how long does the data need to be kept?
In the ITIL Service Lifecycle, during requirements gathering, answering these questions is essential for the implementation of new or changed services. I have seen many new services fail because the management of data has not been addressed during Service Design. Best practice advice is to have a Data Management process that establishes policy and standards, provides expertise and makes it easier to handle the data aspects of new service. After all, our goal is to reduce risk to our business and to add value to the services we deliver to our customers.