Love and Data: A Valentine’s Tribute
So you’ve found it. The ONE. The peanut butter to your jelly, the macaroni to your cheese, the chicken to your waffle. Suddenly everything makes so much sense, as if it was here all along just waiting for you to find. And now that you have your main squeeze, you’ll do whatever it takes to support and cultivate that relationship for the rest of your life.
That’s how we felt when we found our one and only: Data. The missing piece of the puzzle to transforming benefits access. It drives our outreach to clients, enables us to provide high quality service, and gives us the ability to offer valuable insight for the field as we all work to use data to create social change. And we’re proud that we’ve been in a committed, long-term relationship with Data since 2005. But like any great relationship it has required hard work. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share some of our most valuable lessons learned:
1. Know yourself first
Before entering into a data-based initiative, it’s important to identify what your needs are, what kind of work you’re willing to put in, and what you want out of it. Having clear expectations from the outset will help team members understand their roles and how it contributes to the overall purpose of the project.
2. Maintain open lines of communication with your partner
Sometimes, gathering and exchanging data can take longer than expected. Reports may need to be tweaked, algorithms run again, or entire data sets may need to be re-engineered. Understandably, this can create stress. But transparent communication and a shared understanding of the ultimate goal can keep both parties aligned and positive.
3. Make the time to evaluate
The best relationships are those that are continually nurtured and not taken for granted. Once a project is underway, it is critically important to evaluate the data regularly. This means not just analyzing the immediate, short-term outputs but taking a step back to look at trends within the data to ensure it is maximized to its fullest potential.
Whether you’re just “courting” Data or have been in a relationship for years, these points remain important considerations for a successful, happy partnership. We hope these nuggets of wisdom will come in handy as you work with data for social good.