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Chapter 6—Self-Assessment: You Are Here, But...Where Exactly Is That?

What is your current, or "here," data system? The answer might seem obvious since, after all, this is the current operations of the organization—the everyday reality. But to get the LDS project off to a good start, you and your stakeholders should step back and carefully depict your system environment and capabilities. The results may surprise you.

Invite representatives from a wide range of stakeholder groups (see chapter 4) to look at the organization's current data system and data use practices. Though some technical staff should be involved, an understanding of the nuts and bolts is not required. On the contrary, the most important input in self-assessment will come from those who are involved with the day-to-day business operations and goals of the organization.

Self-assessments can be carried out in several ways, such as through an LDS steering committee, advisory board, or working group; personal or group interviews with stakeholders; written questionnaires; and focus groups. Look at what system components and functionalities exist currently and what developments are under way. Table 2 offers questions to be answered in the self-assessment process.

The next chapter introduces enterprise architecture, which is a process used to systematically conduct both self- and needs-assessments, as well as to guide efficient and effective system development thereafter. Whether an organization follows this rigorous or a less formal process, findings from the self-assessment should be carefully documented before moving to the next stage of information gathering and planning: needs assessment.