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A Guide To Constructing a Data Department From Scratch Setting the scene

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A Guide To Constructing a Data Department From Scratch
Setting the scene

DATA STRATEGY

Some practical advice on where to start out from someone who’s been there before

Most resources I come across when in search of advice and best practices on the way to construct an information department at a middle-sized company are either about making a data-driven organization or constructing an information team. Nevertheless the position I discovered myself in greater than two years ago required a more pragmatic approach:

As the primary (and only) data person at a company, how will you concretely begin to introduce data best practices and construct an information department?

Have you lately been asked to construct an information department at a given company? Do you propose to tackle this role within the near future? Or, out of curiosity, have you usually wondered how a company went from using almost no data to having a multi-person data team? In that case, this text is made for you.

On the left, a castle card “Data department day 1”. On the right, a majestic castle “Data department day 500”.
Challenges of constructing an information department from scratch (image by writer, based on pictures by Sigmund and Dorian Mongel on Unsplash)

After I got hired as the primary “data person” at my current company in November 2021, I used to be faced with a blank field. The highest management had unlocked the budget line for one data person, but the corporate was removed from being data-driven. My manager had previously worked with tech and data roles, but his background was not extensively related to data roles at organizations. Finally, none of my colleagues within the tech department (mostly software engineers) had ever held a position related to data engineering, analytics or science.

So I gathered all of the tools I had at my disposal. I could count on my previous experience as an information team lead at a scale-up company and on the talents I had acquired as a strategic consultant. Other helpful assets were to be found online: there are countless books and articles listing pieces of recommendation to create a data-driven organization or to construct an information team. Asking inquiries to peers in the information community and to colleagues from other departments would also prove to be useful for the journey ahead.

In this text my ambition is just not to show you theoretical fundamentals that you can find online or in books. They’re precious resources you’ll be able to definitely depend on. But nothing beats experience in the sphere. What I would like to…

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