Thursday, May 17, 2012

Naming your Data Management Project

 In my line of work, I get to see many requests for proposals and sometimes I am invited to take part when a project is progressing.  I may be one of the only people on earth who gets pleasure in companies improving their data management strategy because I almost always see a huge return on investment. We’re making the world a better place by managing data the right way, so thanks to those who have made me part of your project.

I do have one word of advice for project managers, however. Please think when you name your projects. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come into a project where some long description is the name of a project and it soon becomes and equally uncompelling acronym.  They are project names like:

  • Salesforce Marketing Analyst Data Mart and Sales Marketing Information Daily Audit or you can go by the catchy acronym SMADMASMIDA
  • Outlook Sales Partner Contact Daily Reconciliation or OSPCDR
  • Operational Business Intelligence for Marketing Analytics or OBIMA

The names and their acronyms are pretty close to meaningless.  People will be more excited by references to the news and pop culture than by intellectual terminology. It matters. Using the technical terms put you in an elitist club of IT, and remember, we’re trying to break down the barriers between business and IT.

Some examples:

  • Any Business Intelligence project today that doesn’t have the name ‘Moneyball’ in the title is missing a huge opportunity.  Everyone knows what the movie Moneyball is about and the way that the Oakland A’s used business intelligence to win. Easy sale of your project to business.
  • Big Data initiatives could be named after Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”.  Rolling in the Deep is what a ship does while out at sea. The image is a small ship tossed on a very deep, dark ocean (of data).
  • The song title is an adaptation of a British slang phrase “roll deep” which means to have a group who always has your back, who can get you out of trouble. It’s a nice image to signify the pervasiveness of data, the fact that there is strength in numbers and for data governance.  

Of course, pop culture is a good way to start, but company culture and the history of your organization are also great inspiration for naming your project.   Given the French background of Talend, my current employer, a name for a data consolidation project might be something like ‘Pas de Deux’ which promotes a vision of a relationship between two people or things.

The point is, try to use the name of the project to promote a vision of the business problem you’re trying to solve.  It’ll play better with the business folks. The name matters.


Daragh O Brien said...

Steve, I think we should start thinking in terms of military naming. Either the apparently official structures ( or the rule of thumb from Hot Shots: "Adjective + Animal Name = 'Sleepy Weasel' or 'Distressed Wombat'"

Meta Brown said...

Rolling in the Deep? You're recommending that project name refer to a notorious failed love affair? That's worse than an uncompelling acronym.

Steve Sarsfield said...

Meh. Maybe you're right, Meta. At least it's memorable.

Daragh - Sleepy Weasel for the next BI project. Nice!

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