Research & Data Mapping

One of our key strengths is industry research & data mapping of organisation structures and profiles of employees in companies within a particular industry or practice. Once we embark on a data mapping project, we initiate the internal delivery pipeline through which our teams will map out the flow of research information that will be gathered in order to optimise the management and the delivery of the data. The most vital aspect is the creation of a data map to determine precisely what information is available within our research and exactly where it resides. This is a process that begins before we embark on that first call.

We undertake all kinds of research and data mapping of projects for the HR Industry. Be it the classification of organisational structures and hierarchies of mid and senior level professionals across a particular industry, the indexing of resume data of CXO’s across a particular sector or functional practice or just the names and phone numbers of all the employees of a rival company; the research team at Perfman HR are well trained professionals adept at the craft of sourcing classified information with uncanny fervor, rigor and persistence.

Creating the Data Map

Once we have worked our way through the processes and pipeline as needed for a particular assignment, we are ready to start the actual data-mapping process. It is lengthy but well-defined and can be broken down into each of the following steps:

The Data Mapping Process

  1. System Information. After the list of all systems is known, we try and gather as much information about each as possible. This exercise is performed with the help of our system infrastructure teams, application support teams, development teams, and business teams. Here are some types of information that can be gathered: system name, description, owner, platform type, location; is it a home grown-package, and does it store both structured and unstructured data; system dependencies (i.e., what systems are dependent on it and what systems does it depend on); business processes supported, business criticality of the system, security and access controls, format of data stored, format of data produced, reporting capabilities, how/where the system is hosted; backup process and schedule, archival process and schedule, whether data is purged or not; if purged, how often and what data gets purged; how many users, is there external access allowed (outside of the company firewall), are retention policies applied, what are the audit-trail capabilities, what is the nature of data stored, e.g. confidential data, nonpublic personal information, or others.
  2. Get a list of business processes. Inventory the list of business processes and map it to the system list obtained in the step above to ensure that all the various types of ESI are documented. The list of business processes is also useful during the discovery process, when one can leverage the list to hone in on a particular type of ESI and obtain information about how it was generated, who owned the data, how the data was processed, how it was stored, and so on. A list of business processes can also be useful when assessing information flows.
  3. Develop a list of roles, groups, and users (custodians). Obtain the organizational chart and determine the roles and groups across the business and the business processes. Document the process custodians and map out who had privileges to do what. Understand the human actors in the information lifecycle flow.
  4. Document the information flow across the entire organization or industry. Determine where critical pieces of information got initiated, how the information was/is manipulated, what systems touch the information, who processes the information, what systems depend on the information, and so on. Understanding the flow of information is key to the data mapping/discovery process.
  5. Identify use of Social Media and Internet tools. Social networking tools, Web-based tools, or home-grown tools – are included in the data-mapping process to a very large extent. We carefully document the types of information being stored on each of these tools. Sometimes company information has a nasty habit of being found in the most unlikely of places. Wherever possible we scour and investigate and work with compliance, information management, or records management groups.

In today’s high attrition world, businesses need to be on top of information about their industry and the key people who are running the engines of growth. Creating a data map is one of the primary steps in responding to competition and could be the proverbial lifesaver for your business. It is vital that organizations get a solid foundation by hiring the experts who have experience in focusing time, energy and resources in doing it right.

The Physics & Security of The Data Map:

The form and format of data maps differ widely by industry type, organizational size, geography, regulatory environment, business processes, and more. While each data map of the various projects that we undertake may look different, there are several key elements essential to any good data map:

  • Looks Matter. How the data map looks is key to its usability, relevance, and presentability. A good data map will be organized either functionally or hierarchically with various data points organized around key subject lines. Typically it would consist of rows of data with columns of attributes for each data set. The size of the map is entirely dependent upon the organization or project, but at a minimum, each one should contain information about process, systems, and people.
  • A format that supports change. Data maps are subject to frequent change and thus choosing a format that allows updates to be made in a painless manner is critical. In the initial stages significant volumes of data need to be entered, so we start with a format that supports quick data entry, such as MS Word and Excel, and subsequently migrate to a longer-term format that supports searching, reporting, and quick retrieval, such as an online database. At the end of the day we aim not to over-complicate either the form or the format. Bottom line: “We Keep it Simple.”
  • Emphasize the quality of content. In the past our data map designers have sometimes tended to “over engineer” the document and set themselves and the client up for a process that involves gathering numerous data values for each entry in the map. Over time we have learned from our experiences and in our current projects, we hone in on only those fields and columns that truly add value to the document; thus the process of collecting, collating and organizing the information for it becomes more manageable. For each column in the data map, we collect as much accurate information as possible. For the “location” column, for instance, we enumerate both primary and secondary locations, if there is one. A system may store the last 10 years of data online (primary storage location) with legacy data archived in a data archival system, or offsite location. All locations are reflected on the data map.
  • Access and Storage. Data are typically considered a “record” under record retention rules and therefore all of the requirements of good records management would apply. Unless explicitly prohibited, access to the data map can be granted to various groups and roles within an organization. The rationale is that the data map contains critical information that should be accessible broadly rather than available only to some individuals. Most of these individuals, however, would get “read-only” access to it. Accordingly, a view of the data map should be placed on a more widely-accessible storage location while the data map itself can be controlled via the appropriate database or file system controls.
  • Maintaining the Data Map. Ensuring that the data map stays accurate is vital to the relevance and long term viability of it. We advise our clients to set up a cross-functional team comprised of business, IT, and compliance to maintain it. A data map administrator from our end who performs the edits and controls access will also be established, and an appropriate chain of custody will be established such that when the data map administrator leaves the organization, the right hand-offs take place. Data map updates should are generally done on an annual basis, but also in response to significant organizational events, as well as compliance and regulatory changes, or revamping of systems and processes. We advise our clients on maintenance according to budgets and priorities.

Contact us for a research or data mapping assignment by clicking here.

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