Why You Need to Have a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)

SSOT

Most businesses have an abundance of data to manage, and they make the mistake of managing it across many different platforms that can be accessed by many different people. This can cause a number of discrepancies and inefficiencies, so it makes more sense to have a single source of truth (SSOT).

But what exactly is a single source of truth, and how do you implement it?

What Is a SSOT?

As the name suggests, a single source of truth is a singular, centralized, accessible location where the “truth” (aka data) within an organization can be stored, organized, and retrieved. The primary purpose of an SSOT is to centralize and streamline a company’s data, and it stands in contrast to data structures that involve multiple sources of truth.

As an example, let’s consider an organization that has 10 different software platforms run by 10 different departments, each of whom is gathering data both independently and on overlapping topics. 

Understandably, this system would be chaotic, with potentially redundant data entries and probable contradictions between systems and departments.

One solution could be implementing an SSOT in this scenario, replacing the 10 different software platforms with a single software platform that all 10 departments use equally. 

Instead of making a redundant entry, a department would see that the entry is already there and valid, preventing time waste. If a contradiction of data arises, it can be resolved within the platform.

Why Is an SSOT Valuable?

Why is a single source of truth so valuable?

  • Cross-departmental coordination. Organizations often gather data from multiple sources simultaneously, and in many cases, those sources are related to different departments with different goals. This causes significant chaos and reduces the data analytic potential of the organization. Establishing a single source of truth allows for more convenient coordination and collaboration between departments, reducing silos as well as streamlining data management.
  • Centralization and accessibility. This system is also important because it centralizes data and makes it more accessible. Instead of trying to track down a single data point on multiple platforms or dealing with confusion about contradictory entries across platforms, users should know exactly where to go for what they’re trying to find. If the SSOT is intuitive and solid in terms of user experience, the situation will be even better.
  • Fewer errors, mistakes, and contradictions. Many companies adopt a single source of truth so there can be fewer errors, mistakes, and contradictions. Tracking data is a good thing, generally, but the truth of this depends on the data being accurate and consistent across the board. Any mistake or contradiction can cost a lot of time and cause analytic headaches, so it pays to prevent these hiccups as much as possible.
  • Productivity and speed. An SSOT has the potential to increase productivity and speed across the board. With fewer mistakes, faster data accessibility, more intuitive systems, and more collaboration, it’s only natural that employees are going to get more done in less time.
  • Data security. In most cases, a single source of truth also leads to better data security. That’s mostly because it’s easier to protect a single platform than to protect multiple platforms simultaneously. Of course, this is dependent on your ability to select a highly secure platform as your single source of truth.
  • Higher transparency. Organizations that use a single source of truth have higher transparency than their counterparts. Transparency leads to higher morale, more public trust, and a host of other benefits.

How to Create a SSOT

If you’re interested in creating an SSOT for your organization, these are the steps you should follow:

  • Analyze your existing frameworks. Make sure you spend time analyzing your existing frameworks. What systems do you use? How do you approach and organize data? How do your departments work together? Try to analyze the root causes of your problems and take inventory of all your data sources.
  • Consider investing in comprehensive software. Is it possible to replace all these data sources with one piece of comprehensive software? For many enterprises, this is the right move, but it’s not the only option available.
  • Assemble integrations. It’s also possible to stitch together a single source of truth by integrating multiple platforms into each other. This does demand more work, and leaves a few problematic gaps, but it could be cheaper and simpler than comprehensive software.
  • Create clear protocols. Follow up by creating clear protocols for how data is meant to be gathered and entered into your SSOT. Do whatever is necessary to make sure these protocols are consistently followed.

If you don’t already have an SSOT, now is the time to audit your current approach to data organization and analytics. Introducing and coordinating a single source of truth does demand an investment of both time and money, but it may be worth it to see the impressive benefits at the end of the line.

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