top of page

Becoming a Data-Led organisation

Rob Dean Picture

In our professional journeys, we've all met examples of subjectivity, bias and myth.

Decisions can be made in many ways, not always using facts and logic - many are based on gut feel, relationships, likeability and anecdotal evidence. As with everything, a balanced approach is ideal. How interesting, yet unsurprising, that in 100% of organisations we surveyed, there was a unanimous view that fact-based data and insights were still disproportionately outweighed. And yet in parallel, all agreed that tapping into the potential of people data as the narrator of organisational dynamics is a worthwhile investment.

Data icon

In our ever-advancing technological age it is crucial for organisations to recognise the transformative potential of the fourth pillar of the SaaS Mindset™, "Data-Led". This pillar emphasises the strategic use of data to inform decisions, bust myths, and drive organisational success. In this article, we explain what it means to be Data-Led, nurturing a culture where the organisation sees the true value of data, individuals take accountability for the quality of data and where data is used in a very different way from the current day-to-day reporting.

SaaS Mindset Data-Led picture

Who owns data?

When it comes to becoming Data-Led, one of the most significant behavioural changes required is the shift in accountability. Data cannot be seen as the responsibility of the function – in other

words, people data is not ‘owned’ by HR and financial data is not ‘owned’ by Finance.

Veran Performance quote

In organisations where data quality is promoted and measured, individuals are clear about the role they play and the practical steps they need to take towards data quality.

Embedding a culture of accountability

The UK government recognised that the biggest barrier to seeing the potential of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is data quality. In 2020, it announced its Data Quality Framework, which promotes data quality across the Civil Service. The Government Data Quality Framework. It refers to five data quality principles which are recommended to drive a culture of pride in data:

-        Commit to data quality

-        Know your users and their needs

-        Assess quality through the data lifecycle

-        Communicate data quality clearly and effectively

-        Anticipate changes affecting data quality

This framework is a useful guide for any organisation looking to embed a culture of accountability around data quality. Data quality assessment and correction has traditionally been seen as unavoidable or annoying housekeeping that HR or Finance ’impose’ once or twice a year. Only the most mature Data-Led organisations report data quality on a regular basis and tie this to personal and team objectives.

Veran Performance quote

Embedding the required behaviours will enable organisations to maximise the benefits of being Data-Led.

Using Data Proactively:

Date icon

With or without AI, good quality data is the foundation for being Data-Led as it allows the true value of data to surface, delivering insights, understanding and forecasting trends and informing decisions. The Data-Led mindset prioritises evidence over opinion, busts the myths and anecdotal ‘facts’ that exist in all organisations.

A global firm worked with us to select a new HR tool to drive better business' performance. Before going to market for a system, they were keen to use data to provide evidence as to what would deliver the biggest ‘bang for buck’ impact on the business performance. After a very animated session with various leaders from across the business, we had a list of all the ‘myths and organisational facts’ associated with business performance:

-              whether permanent hires were more successful than contractors,

-              which recruitment sources delivered the most high-performing recruiters,

-              the average time to optimal productivity.

We spent a couple of weeks sourcing data from across the business, including HR, Finance and Sales and then unveiled the truth behind the data! There were significant surprises, such as how many colleagues were leaving the organisation in the final month of every quarter, which in itself led to both changes in some of the People Policies (especially Reward and Recruitment) and a much more focused hunt for technology that could enable better business performance. Based on past trends, we were also able to provide ‘turnover hotspots’ in the company, which enabled much more focussed interventions by managers.

Veran Performance quote

Culture or Capability?

Busting organisation myths, or overcoming ‘sweeping statement syndrome’, requires both a cultural shift and a specific capability encompassing the three Cs:

Curiosity wanting to open the bonnet on what’s really hidden in your data and understanding what it’s telling you. Looking at how other organisations are using data to drive insight and transformation.

Collaboration – working in cross-functional teams to understand what insights are required, how they could be achieved and who would benefit from that information. Moving from siloed thinking about ‘my data’ to systems thinking about ‘our data’ alone has the power to transform the way data is used across your organisation.

Capability – knowing how to source data, ‘mash’ data, analyse and predict trends using data. Also, the ability to apply validity to the way in which data is being used to tell a story or make a case.

HR and Finance functions need to plan for capability by developing colleagues and/or buying-in the skills. This is where the ‘cross-functional’ pillar of our SaaS Mindset™ also has a role to play, as the combined skills across HR and Finance could be a pragmatic starting point,

with additional strength added once the building blocks are in place.

What does this all mean:

Having accurate and reliable data enables a business to be proactive as opposed to reacting to problems as they arise, as well as to help to predict the future.

The power of AI has changed how people view data – it’s gone from being a nice-to-have to an absolute must. The increasing level of compliance reporting, such as pay gap reporting, is fuelling the need for better and more data. And by thinking about data as a strategic asset, rather than a by-product, we can open the door of opportunity to real insight and innovation.

Veran Performance quote

Understanding what it means to be Data-Led in your organisation and how to make that happen is a worthwhile investment, both in terms of establishing the capability, but more importantly, making it your strategic norm.

If you are interested in reviewing your progress to becoming Data-Led or need support in starting your journey please contact us at We offer a Service Opportunity Assessment which will help you and your team understand your current gaps and how to address these with a pragmatic approach.




bottom of page