Have you filled a data bucket today?

One of my kid’s favorite books is called “Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” and can be found here at this link. The overall gist of the book is that each person in the world carries with them an invisible bucket and these buckets get filled when other people do kind actions for them (such as the receipt of a smile) and gets emptied when people do not-so-nice things (such as when kids are bullied or ignored). The more your bucket is full, the better you feel. The interesting note here is that the book teaches children that not only do the recipients of bad behavior have their invisible buckets emptied when people are mean to them but the people who are being mean are emptying their own buckets when they are doing these not-so-nice things. Overall it’s a great book and if you’ve got little ones I’d strongly recommend picking it up and reading it to them, the kids really connect with the book very well.

What’s this have to do with data? Well, have you filled a data bucket today? You can fill a data bucket in many ways and in performing kind acts to your data will in turn will not only fill your bucket but the bucket of all those who use and rely on your data. Some suggestions for data bucket filling are:

* Profile! Have you profiled your data lately? Although data is inert it does in fact behave like a living being, so take a peek under the covers at a particular data set which you haven’t looked at in a while and see if anything has substantially changed. Keep track of your profiling results to compare with future profiling job results so you can see how things have changed.

* Monitor! Create a new monitoring job for that one little data quality issue which occurs every so often. I’m sure you’ve got one or two silly errors which your application users find every so often and you go in (re-actively) and fix but you’ve always been too busy to proactively search for the issue. Take some time and fill that bucket by monitoring for that issue.

* Network! Get out of your cube/office and speak to some folks who use your data. What’s changed for them over the last year or six months, both personally and professionally. Are they seeing anything new in the data or in the marketplace? What are your competitors doing with their data, do some homework and figure out if you can apply it to your data.

* Clean! Fix something or close out that issue you’ve wanted to work on for ages. Fixing a small lingering issue goes a long way and although it might be small, having it on your to-do list for a very long time makes for some serious bucket emptying, fill your bucket by doing something about it.

* Market! Do some marketing for your data or your data management program.

* Report! Build a new report. It doesn’t have to be pretty or sexy, just something which you don’t already have in your toolbox.

* Learn! Read a book or some blogs about a facet of data management you don’t normally read about. If your a data quality professional, read something about the relational database your using. If your a DBA or a reporting analyst, take a read about Data Quality or Data Governance. Attend a user group for your companies industry or go to a local DAMA meeting or a user group meeting for your favorite data vendor, you’re certain to learn something new.

There’s many small things you can do to fill a data bucket today and these are just a few. The trick is to just do some small gesture to make your data better or to get a better understanding of your data or your environment or the users of your data and you’ll start feeling the positive affect of filling buckets.

Until next time...Rich

p.s. Feel free to fill some of your friends, family and co-worker’s buckets too, a simple smile or heartfelt “thank you very much” goes a long way...