At SchoolBI, we’ve encountered various apprehensions from schools exploring the realm of data visualization and business intelligence (BI) projects. One particular concern has prompted me to share this post — the belief that data must be immaculately clean to derive any meaningful insights. We understand this perspective, but we’re here to convey that the path to unlocking the power of your data is not as black-and-white as it might seem.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Projections indicate that schools equipped with BI tools and robust data strategies will gain a significant advantage by 2025. Delaying action due to the pursuit of immaculate data cleanliness could hinder your school’s potential for success.

THE WAY TO WIN: While the concern about “clean data” has validity, it’s crucial to recognize that it shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle. Perfectly clean data is not an end state; it’s a continuous journey and an iterative process. Here are some fundamental concepts to adopt to unleash the power of your data now and in the future:

  • Pivot from Perfection: Understand that your core systems were designed for operational data use, not necessarily for the nuanced demands of data analysis. Instead of aiming for perfection, acknowledge that your data journey is ongoing, and your core systems may not need a complete overhaul.
  • Flexibility is Key: Build a flexible and nimble data approach that supports cleaning and structuring your data outside of your core systems. Shift expectations from demanding pristine data in your source systems to building a flexible data program that adapts to your evolving needs and goals.
  • Shared Challenges: Recognize that data issues are not unique to your school. Organizations across sectors face similar challenges. Explore proven, scalable solutions that are purpose-built for schools and cater to their specific data needs.
  • Data Governance Matters: Invest in robust data governance practices to ensure ongoing data quality. Establish checks and balances within your systems to identify and rectify inconsistencies, preventing the accumulation of errors over time.
  • Start Small, Iterate Often: As Anne Lamott wisely referenced in “Bird by Bird,” on how her brother should tackle an overwhelming multi-month project on birds, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” Don’t let the size of a project paralyze you. Start with something manageable and keep iterating. The journey is gradual, but the value you bring to your school community will compound over time.


All of us at SchoolBI committed to empowering schools to turn data challenges into opportunities. We believe in making data visualization a valuable asset for informed decision-making processes. Your data journey is bright, and we have the utmost confidence in your capability to bring value to your school. Remember, it’s not about perfection; it’s about progress, one step at a time.