Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Absence of good quality data

What happens when good quality data is not available?

You can either fabricate it on the basis of your gut feeling and hope to achieve the desired results for your decisions or you can begin to gather and analyze data immediately to get the answers, maybe in a year or two.

However, the correct method to capture a large quantity of meaningful data is to set up the required systems, procedures and records right at the start. Collecting data doesn't mean you keep looking at it constantly. It means that it will be readily available whenever you need it.

Good quality data might not be available due to the following reasons:-

Time constraints: The Data Collection Managers may not always get sufficient time to search for the required information. The more the number of decisions a manager has to make, the less time they have to investigate each of them.

Characteristics of the decision-making process: Employees often do not use optimal decision-making procedures. Ideally, they should have a comprehensive list of alternatives instead of relying on a short list. Employees make decisions on the go instead of postponing them until the entire information is collected, often breaking the search process before the necessary information is collected.

Structural blocks: For security purposes, companies usually restrict access to some information. That is, only some employees can view or use that restricted information. This is done to promote specialisation of labour or to make some decisions more consistent with the organisation’s priorities. When companies decentralise the decision-making process and remove structural barriers to information, employees have more freedom in making decisions and may follow different decision-making procedures.

Cultural factors: Various cultural factors restrict access to information by either making the information taboo or requiring particular rituals to be followed to get the information. Factors that lay more emphasis on formal communications and group consensus and that enforce hierarchy are more likely to restrict information search and innovation.

Company policies and rules: Certain company policies and rules may restrict employees from seeking information.

Individual obstructions: Since employees may lack the cognitive ability required to process a large amount of information, they may prefer to remain unaware about some issues so that they do not have to take sides.

Technical issues in search procedures: Information, at most times, needs to be searched for, which requires technical knowledge. Either employees are not aware of the source of information or the search procedures for accessing these sources.

Cost of search: The monetary cost of a search may restrict the search for information.

Lack of initiatives or going the extra mile: People may not be motivated to pursue something not mentioned in their job description.

Fear of negative or unknown information: Due to a fear of negative information, especially if it is feedback about their work, employees may not seek information.

We now understand the factors that may lead to the absence of good quality data. However, what is a manager supposed to do if he or she does not have access to such data? Concocting data or waiting for the data to be gathered and analysed might not be a good option.

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