5 Strategies for Optimizing Outcomes from Cross-agency Data Sharing

5 Strategies for Optimizing Outcomes from Cross-agency Data Sharing

Cross-agency data sharing can transform government operations and services. How? By empowering all employees to quickly and easily gain new insights.

Effective data sharing involves prerequisites, from ensuring data quality to establishing a data sharing agreement. But once you’re actively sharing data, you need to ensure you’re getting the most from your efforts. To achieve the results you want, follow these steps:

  1. Understand user needs.

Data sharing can involve changes for users. It’s understandable that employees might be skeptical. So, it’s crucial to identify user needs – both what they require from the data, and what actions they need to take to make data sharing successful.

Start by communicating what your data sharing agreement will mean for users, what role they’ll play in the process, and how they can benefit. Effective technology should minimize manual capture or sharing of data. But be sure employees understand new process steps they need to follow, either to share data or to access shared data from a central repository.

Next, document the types of shared data each user or role requires. If necessary, conduct user surveys or workshops to get input on the information employees can use to do their jobs better. Finally, make sure the shared data is easy to access and consume in a secure manner.

  1. Train users to leverage dashboards and become more productive.

You can use shared data to populate dynamic dashboards that enable users to quickly visualize trends, trouble spots, and opportunities. But for agency employees who haven’t used dashboards before, some data displays might initially seem intimidating.

To get the most from your dashboards, make sure all users receive training on how to customize data displays and how to consume analytics, visualizations, and reports. Effective data sharing tools should be intuitive to use, but a workshop or on-demand trainings can ensure you’re maximizing your investment.

Dashboards can deliver tangible positive outcomes. For example, Qlarion partnered with the Commonwealth of Virginia to develop employment dashboards that aggregate data from 17 state agencies and dozens of career centers and training institutes. The self-service dashboards give state leaders and policy-makers up-to-date insights into state workforce and employment trends.

  1. Practice good data governance to ensure data privacy and quality.

Effective data sharing calls for a data governance framework. Data governance begins with a team dedicated to managing the data and technology to ensure common solutions for data exchange, workflow, and business rules.

Data governance continues with a formal data architecture that covers data standards, information models, and cybersecurity measures to ensure data privacy and protection. It also includes policies and processes that establish guidelines for master data management and that specify workflows for creating and modifying master data.

  1. Achieve a holistic understanding of data across participating agencies.

The greatest benefit of cross-agency data sharing is the promise of gaining new visibility from previously unconnected data. Having a holistic view of your newly aggregated data is essential.

The most effective way to realize that goal is by pursuing data analytics maturity. After all, it’s only through effective analytics, visualization, and reporting that you can gain new insights that deliver value.

To move toward analytics maturity, take these actions:

Audit and cleanse. Routinely review and rationalize your datasets to be sure they’re timely and relevant.

Model and maintain. Practice continual data modeling so that data feeds and stores adapt to changing needs.

Become a data-quality leader. Create an analytics center of excellence to transform your agency into a data-driven organization.

Where to begin? Establish a baseline through a formal analytics maturity assessment. Qlarion has partnered with many data-driven organizations to conduct comprehensive assessments to start them on their journey to analytics maturity.

  1. Apply data insights to prepare for the future and deliver relevant services to constituents.

A primary goal of data sharing is to deliver new and more effective services to citizens – by understanding trends and responding to needs as they emerge. But new constituent services won’t automatically flow from shared data. You need to invest in the technologies and processes that enable you to leverage data insights to improve operations and better fulfill your mission.

When Virginia worked with Qlarion on cross-agency sharing of employment data, it also created a public-facing dashboard called the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal. The portal aggregates and delivers unemployment claims and payment data, census data and labor market trends. The innovative service connects citizens with programs, training, and services to advance their careers.

As more organizations embrace cross-agency data sharing, the potential benefits will only expand. The key to capitalizing on that potential is to take the actions that convert shared data into new insights and transform those insights into capabilities and services that advance your mission.