Do you really know your data?

28 Jul 2021

It might be a truism, but as trustees it is your responsibility to ensure that your administrator will pay the right benefits to the right people at the right time. To do this, all the necessary data needs to be correct and available, but to be able to do this efficiently, more is required. Data needs to be held correctly and consistently across the membership, in order to allow the automation required for member self-service.

Data for your members will have been built up over decades and as such is likely to have undergone several transformations, between providers and between systems. You may well have old data held in paper files or even microfiche. For each transformation there should be audit trails and checks and balances undertaken, but it's almost certain that some data is not captured consistently. This may well be in relation to transfer ins, divorces, AVCs, FSAVCs, part-time hours...the list goes on. Often you will find that this sort of detail has been held in a free form notes section, which means that it can’t be used efficiently.

When dealing with member transactions, administrators will look at data on a case by case basis; they will review the backfiles, the notes and extras and ensure data is updated as they go along -  effectively “data cleansing on a member by member basis”.

Most trustees will have current or future plans that are reliant on the use of their data; many will be looking at, or undertaking, end game and risk transfer options ( e.g. Member Options, Buy-in, Buy-out) and all should have GMP equalisation and the Pensions Dashboard on their radar. 

Before starting any of these data reliant projects, it's worth trustees spending some time with their administrator to identify where all data items are held and whether any archive data may need to be located and then extracted.

For all these projects, data is needed; often it will be required in a different format and it will always be required in bulk format (so not the member by member basis). Given this, it's worthwhile digging into the details of your data with your administrator now to get ready for whatever your next steps may be.

Key things to be understood include:

  • What is the history of our data?
  • How is all our data held?

And once you know what you want to do with your data:

  • What are the relevant gaps in our data?
  • What format is it required in?
  • What might we want to look at in the future?  

Your administrator should be able to work with you to plan your end game data journey, or any other projects, to make sure you are looking at the right data at the right time. Their input should allow you to be efficient in your data cleanse work and effectively prioritise work on the different data items. 

If you would like to discuss your own data journey in more detail, please get in touch.

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