Before We Talk About Data, Let’s Talk About HOW We Talk About Data

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How do you feel about everyone you speak to having the same understanding of the definitions of words we use in everyday conversations? Take the word Asset for example. How many different ways can it be interpreted? A test of this would be to approach someone you know from finance and ask them for their definition of an Asset and then do the same thing with your plant manager. If the first statement holds true, there will have been two very different answers to your question. The point is definitions are important understanding them in a common way is super important. The application of the definition within our work tasks is one of the fundamentals of data management and governance. Thus if the definition is not applied in a consistent fashion then we all know what happens next!

The following definitions are included as relevant to the discussion of asset information management. They are formulated from objective sources in an attempt to remove subjectivity but provide guidance in your daily conversations.

Information Need – an insight that is necessary or required in order to solve problems, to manage risks, and to achieve goals and objectives (ISO 27000:2014)

Information Integration – the merging of information from heterogeneous sources with differing conceptual, contextual and typographical representations (Wikipedia)

Data is defined:

1) information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful (Merriam-Webster)

2) the quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer which may be stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media (Oxford Dictionaries)

Data Management – Administrative process by which the required data is acquired, validated, stored, protected, and processed, and by which its accessibility, reliability, and timeliness is ensured to satisfy the needs of the data users. (

Information – the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence (Webster’s Dictionary)

Information Management – concerns a cycle of organizational activity: the acquisition of information from one or more sources, the custodianship and the distribution of that information to those who need it, and its ultimate disposition through archiving or deletion (Wikipedia).

Asset Information – is a combination of data about physical assets used to inform decisions about how they are managed (The Institute of Asset Management)

Asset Management – enables an organization to examine the need for, and performance of, assets and asset systems at different levels. Additionally, it enables the application of analytical approaches towards managing an asset over the different stages of its life cycle (ISO 55000 – Asset management – Overview, principles and terminology)

Asset Management Capabilities – include processes, resources, competences and technologies to enable the effective and efficient development and delivery of asset management plans and asset life activities, and their continual improvement (ISO 55000 – Asset management – Overview, principles and terminology)

These words and their definitions will be the template for our blogs going forward. A standard language that is accurate and agreed to will only lead to better understanding and revelation. Look for our next installment soon.

Norm Poynter is a widely known author and consultant around all things data, data integrity and data administration. Norm is facilitating his popular hands-on SAP Master Data Workshop in Houston on May 11 & 12. Don’t miss out!

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Norm Poynter
Norm Poynter is a management consultant, specializing in SAP PM along with integration to engineering and plant process systems. For the past 17 years he has been involved in continuous improvement, best practices, plant turnarounds, re-engineering, process improvements, process safety and operations excellence development & implementation projects. Norm has held technical and functional roles with Agrium, NOVA Chemicals, DuPont, Canexus, Fortis. Marathon Oil, Suncor, and Nexen.

Today, Norm focuses on Operations Excellence Management Systems along side the creation of sustainable communities of practice. Key passions for Norm are enabling standardization, consistency and productivity through better use grass root technologies like SAP.