Data is rapidly becoming an integrated part of everyday operations in all sectors — government, nonprofit, and for profit. The proliferation of data, tools, and applications are making it easier to organize, interpret, and integrate data insights into business operations. More and more public service sectors are using data-derived insights to give decision makers accurate information to understand distinct community needs, verify decisions and actions, and quantify the results and impacts of investments and services. From promoting equitable experiences to community action plans to defining the importance of parks and recreation programs, practitioners and planners are using data to make their case.
Data-driven decisions use facts in place of (or to support) opinion or instinct to ensure that agencies are successfully prioritizing and meeting the needs of communities in meaningful and equitable ways. Examples of data-driven decisions include identifying how people are using or want to use public services, deciding where to locate new parks, making communities more resilient to climate change, and supporting the case to maintain or increase the annual budgets for capital improvements, operations, and maintenance.
Data can be extremely powerful, and, when used effectively across an organization that has adopted a data-driven culture, it can be a great champion for the mission and delivery of that organization’s essential services.
Data-driven decision-making is the process of making organizational decisions based on actual data rather than intuition or observation alone. It is a process that can inform and validate a course of action before committing to it. Utilizing data in decision-making offers several benefits. In all cases, data-driven decision-making can help deliver decisions confidently and, as suggested by Harvard Business School, more proactively.