Hi Colin,Your first bullet point, "create order out of chaos" from ~16 different databases (I assume different products, different policies/processes, different interfaces and of course different purpose) -- indicates that the person's job will be full of a lot of identifying the source(s) of chaos, assessment of systems, creating a roadmap etc., all the while making sure her eyes are firmly on the organization's goals and objectives/deliverables, and simultaneously making sure that this person is also adept at drawing reports, etc. I think that this position probably includes a strategy component, as well as a reporting/administrative component.Purely from the perspective of hiring a candidate with a perfect skill set, it might be hard to find someone who can be strategic, at the same time focus on nitty gritty details. How about breaking this task into two components, one involving assessment, strategic direction and another focusing on actual execution aspect such as report generation?I should also point that most of the assessment and strategy setting is one-time job whereas reporting will be ongoing.Hope this helps.
I should add that the position will have the ear of the IT Director and be one degree of separation from a sympathetic CEO. That said, I think the person in that position will always be dealing with the symptoms and not the causes.
Our data mess and silo problems aren't a result of internal politics, but rather has been imposed on us by outside forces. Wherever possible we've tried to consolidate data, but different programs have different requirements. Our housing program requires the use of a database developed by HUD. LIHEAP has a specific database mandated by the state DEO. We have an outside vendor that handles a lot of our Head Start paperwork (and they do an awesome job), but part of the deal is that we have to use their in-house database (which is not a terrible product). That's how we ended up where we are.As you point out, Medha, the candidate is going to require strategic thinking and nitty-gritty skills. While I'm pretty sure such a candidate exists, I'm not sure how long I'm going to be able to keep them because I know how much those skills are in demand.
Your organization sounds similar to mine. We are also a large org with 25+ programs, including some that are tied to specific State/Fed platforms we have no control over. The rest of the programs use SaaS platforms I put in place, so we also have a combination of multiple data sources to wrangle. It is so exciting to see others adding these positions to their agencies. I've been the "Data Analytics Manager (DAM)" for a mental health non-profit for 5 years now, but I don't know many others in similar positions. I've heard this position be called a "unicorn" position many times because it is indeed so difficult to find someone with the needed skill set. Finding and keeping someone who is discerning enough to keep a high-level view in addition to knowing the smallest of details is difficult. The person also must be introverted enough to stay sane while completing complex projects on their own, while being extroverted enough to act as the conduit between IT, staff, and even stakeholders. With new data regulation coming in periodically, this person must also be a champion of change management. Part of what allows this position to have strategic influence is having them report directly to the C-Suite. I reside in the "Administration" side of the agency, so it is clear organizationally that I touch and influence all programs, policies, and procedures. My job description includes data reporting, advanced analytics and visualization, database development and administration, and operational risk management. We use phrases like "manage the reporting environment" to capture all it entails to report on, wrangle, and improve disjointed data sources. We use the phrase "identify solution strategies" to imply there is a significant role and allowance for this person to guide strategic development and improvement plans. We also state the position should "proactively analyze and drive data governance, compliance, and risk reduction" to imply the position has a real voice in driving process changes throughout the org. By using these broader phrases in the job description, it allows for more flexibility as the current "problems" will change over time. What will the person do after those initial data problems are "solved"? Finding the person who spots issues before everyone else, and can move others to act, helps to make the position valuable over time. The person who naturally thinks this way, can be more valuable than someone who knows the specific platform or tools you currently use. My background is in psychology and research – not technology or mathematics, etc. so be open to who could apply as well. I'd be happy to talk further and/or share my job description. Best of luck!
I'm hearing yo on FM. I'm thinking the ideal candidate is a liberal arts major who knows how to write a query as opposed to a CompSci person.
I do worry about my ability to retain this person long-term. The good news is, after 6 years with this org, I feel pretty confident in our ability to provide a steady stream of chaos. :-)