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Navigating Insights: The Art of Data Collection Plans

Excellence and equity require a focus on people and processes, the qualitative and the quantitative, the story and the science. Some organizations lean too heavily on the qualitative aspects and the stories and other organizations lean too heavily on the quantitative aspects and the science.

To be most effective and equitable, you need both. As it specifically pertains to equity, you cannot demonstrate that you are closing equity gaps without data!

To make sense of data, you need a plan. That's where the Data Collection Plan steps in—it's a structured framework designed to help gather and make sense of data. In this blog post, we'll explain what a data collection plan is, how it's used, and even provide you with a template to kickstart your data journey.

Understanding Data Collection Plans

What is a Data Collection Plan?

A Data Collection Plan is a systematic way of gathering and organizing data so that it's accurate, reliable, and directly relevant to the research or analysis you're doing. It tells you who, what, when, and how to collect data.


Your measures and results may not be accurate, reliable, or relevant if you don’t have a data plan. You may claim you are having and impact when you're actually not.

Components of a Data Collection Plan

  • Objective: The goal of your data collection. What do you want to learn or find out?

  • Scope: What's included (in scope) and what's not in (out of scope of) your data collection.

  • Data Sources: Where are you getting your data from, like surveys, databases, interviews, etc.

  • Methodology: How you're actually going to collect the data, including any platforms, tools or techniques. Methodology may also include the steps for ensuring data are not altered as they move from one platform to another or one employee to another.

  • Timeline: When and how often you'll collect data and communicate data to match your project schedule.

  • Responsibilities: Who's in charge of different parts of the data collection process, as well as communication to key stakeholders.

  • Quality Checks: How will you ensure the data is accurate and reliable?

How to Use a Data Collection Plan

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Define Your Objectives: Clearly state what you want to achieve with your data collection. This sets the foundation for a successful plan.

  • Identify Data Sources: Figure out where your data will come from. It could be from inside your organization, like databases, or from surveys, interviews, or even outside sources.

  • Select Data Collection Methods: Choose the right tools and methods for gathering data. This could mean using online surveys, talking to people face-to-face, or using automated tools to extract data.

  • Assign Responsibilities: Make it clear who's in charge of each part of collecting data. This makes sure everyone knows what they're doing.

  • Establish Quality Checks: Put in measures to check and make sure the data you're collecting is accurate and reliable.

  • Create a Timeline: Make a schedule that says when and how often you'll collect data. This keeps everything on track.

A well-made Data Collection Plan is like a map for your data journey. By planning out how you'll collect data, you make sure the information you get is accurate, relevant, and useful. Whether you're in marketing, research, or managing projects, a Data Collection Plan is a super important tool for making smart decisions based on data.

Download the free Data Collection template now!

SSREI Data Collection Plan Template
Download XLSX • 70KB

@2023 Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute

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