Often, we just don’t know what we want to do in the future.

I am Tirmidzi Aflahi, Co-founder of Parentstory. I wrote this blog dedicated for people, who, intentionally or not, stumble upon data, maybe, lots of them, and trying to make some senses out of them.

This blog will tell you a story, about me, who previously knew so little to nothing about data, and the journey on how I tried to increase my understanding about it.

Maybe it was passion, who guided me here

On late 2016, when I was working for my previous company, Bridestory, I was tasked to lead the data team, even though I have little to no exposure to real data as I was working as a mobile app engineer all the time. It was a hard challenge to me, but also an opportunity to get out from the comfort zone I myself unintentionally created. So, I took it and my journey starts.

For somebody among you who try to take on the same challenge, I will warn you first. Working with data is like a janitor in software engineering world. Basically the software engineer created the system to generate the trash. And you, manage the trash.

A data person is like a janitor

Of course, it was not that bad. As someone have ever said before, it is our job, to take that trash, and turn it into cash. And of course, it is also not that easy. As problems can knock your door easily. Given the number of things (in this case, data), maybe millions of them or hundreds of millions of them, the number of possible problems also increases linearly. And here came my very first problem, exactly on my first day of working.

The first problem which immediately appeared was, “The data is wrong”

There was a huge mistrust from the management team on the data provided by the data team. It was happened because they were given several misinformed data before, and it was happened in a short consecutive times.

When I joined the team, I thought, there was some kind of problems in the SQL queries we created before. But, after some deep checks, I personally did not find anything wrong about it. The truth that I found was, it was not the data we provided was wrong, but because the mistrust had already taken place, they will doubt everything we gave them, only believed after some explanations from us (which should be unnecessary if they trusted us).

More than often, it was just about the trust level

For most of us who collaborated with many teams often know about this. It is impossible for us to create a good relationship with other teams in order to bring a positive impact on the company if they are not trusting us. We need to build the trust first before doing or talking anything about relationship. Or even, talking about data in our case.

And so, for my problem, I needed to tackle this trust issue first before doing anything else. And trust issue, is not that hard to solve, as long as you didn’t get overwhelmed by your emotion, i.e. anger, because you need to be close to them and hear their stories and complains.

So, for several months, I worked closely with the other teams, trying to hear about their needs, what did they want to achieve, how did they want to achieve it, what kind of assistance they need from us, what kind of things can make their work easier, and so on.

Largely, what we talked about was nothing about data, it was mainly about them. 

While interacting with them everyday, I delivered the data one by one. Gave the correct data for their needs. And immediately correct the wrong reports to keep their trust level high.

And I was correct. It resolved the long running problem about the wrong data. They trusted everything we gave them. And of course, their productivity went up. It gave me a good feeling of accomplishment, and everyone was happy.

Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you will read more things I will write in the future. Next time, it is about how I solve the fundamental problem that caused the reports gave the the wrong data. So, stay tuned!

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Categories: Journey

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