Information Qualities

© Ruth Dimon, 2013

Photo © Ruth Dimon, 2013

When thinking about turning data into information, you have to consider all of the different qualities of that information. The following list is not exhaustive, but it’s more complete than we usually get when planning how and when (and where) we gather our data and transform it into something people can use.

This list is especially useful when designing business intelligence systems and planning on how to gather data and turn it into useable information.

Business Qualities of Information

  • Accretion
  • Dilution
  • Velocity
  • Risk weight
  • Compounded annual growth rate (CAGR)
  • Compliance: generally accepted accounting procedures (GAAP)/ International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)/Pro forma
  • Financial statement impact: profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow

Scenario Qualities of Information

  • Actual
  • Budget
  • Forecast
  • Plan: short-range, long-range, workforce, capital expenditure
  • Benchmark
  • Historic

The pattern qualities of information

  • Variance
  • Trends
  • Outliers
  • Seasonality
  • Exceptions
  • Benchmarks
  • Sparseness/density
  • Alerts

Contextual Qualities of Information

  • Dimensionality
  • Hierarchy (roll-up)
  • Periodicity
  • Refresh rate
  • Granularity (level of detail)
  • Version
  • Currency (local, converted, triangulated)
  • Time (fixed, year-to-date)
  • Security, performance, dependence (tie-out)

Process Qualities of Information

  • Goal setting
  • Modeling
  • Planning
  • Monitoring
  • Analyzing
  • Reporting
  • Collaboration

People Qualities of Information

  • Ownership
  • Role
  • ‘‘Believe-ability’’
  • Contributor—they ‘‘read/write’’ information
  • Consumer—they ‘‘read-only’’ information
  • Executive sponsor

For example, if upper management says they want to focus and align on variable compensation, you would have to consider as many of the information qualities in the list as possible (or practical) to deliver a process and system that can become part of the EPM ecosystem. Some highlights would include:

  • When is variable compensation reported—when it is accrued, earned, or disbursed (or all three)?
  • Do we need to see variance between actual and planned variable comp?
  • What level of detail do we need to drill-down to—individual sales transactions for quota-carrying sales reps?
  • Do we want to benchmark variable comp internally and externally?
  • Who will consume this information? Will there be a workflow of approvals to track it?

Not everyone has the luxury to consider or investigate all of these qualities of information that they want to use in their EPM system. At least there has to be agreement on which qualities are most important to consider given your time and resource constraints.

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