5 Proven methods to measure the value of your data literacy program

Nov 23, 2023

Organizations are increasingly leveraging data to drive decisions, innovate, and gain a competitive edge. But as the importance of data grows, so does the need for company-wide data literacy. At Data Booster we have seen that there is a common question among organizations that want to upskill their workforce with data literacy skills:

“How do you quantify the ROI or value of data literacy programs?”

Many believe that data literacy leads to additional value such as an increase in revenue and productivity. But how can you quantify this relationship with data? We have created data literacy programs for some of the world’s most well-known organizations, and we have seen many different solutions for this challenge.

In essence, all methods are roughly based on measuring your important business KPIs and how they change after implementing your data literacy program to quantify the value and ROI. However, depending on what is important for your organization, you could and should measure different KPIs.

In this article, we dive deeper into 5 different methods that are used by (inter)national organizations to quantify the value of data literacy programs. You can use these to calculate the value created by your data literacy program, or to make a better business case for implementing one.

1. Link data literacy program indicators to business performance metrics

Data literacy is a container concept for a lot of different skills. To understand if your data literacy program is creating business value, you should look at data literacy program indicators. Two concrete examples of these indicators are the number of course completions by your employees or the average assessment scores for the completed data literacy training. These program indicators give you high-over insights on whether your data literacy program is being completed by learners.

While it is difficult to directly assign a monetary value to completing data literacy courses, it is an early indicator of how your data literacy training program could enable value from data-driven working. For example, by measuring the number of completed data literacy courses or the average assessment scores over time, you can link them to other important business metrics such as revenue growth, customer retention, or revenue per employee. If you measure this before and after rolling out your data literacy program, you can get a quantifiable estimate of the value created.

Measuring the number of course completions is rather easy and can be done for almost all data literacy programs. However, there are also more sophisticated KPIs that may be harder to measure but may be more suited for your business to quantify the value created.

2. Use tool adoption rates as a measure of data literacy

To measure if learners not only complete the data literacy training but also change their way of working, you should measure tool adoption rates. By measuring tool adoption rates of e.g. Tableau, Power BI, Google BigQuery, or Thoughtspot, you have a tangible way to quantify the effectiveness of your data literacy program in changing work behavior.

Ideally, you would like to measure the adoption rates, pre-training, and post-training so that you can accurately tell if, and by how much, the tool adoption rates have changed. KPIs that could be good to options to track as measure of tool adoption rate are:

  • Weekly or monthly average users of tools
  • Number of queries in SQL or quantity of data queried
  • Number of people who accessed and used dashboard(s)

The weekly or monthly average number of users of tools will show you what percentage of people use certain tools, and how often. This will give you better insights into what tools are used most often. And if the tools are fully utilized.  Also, the number of queries or quantity of data queried will give you more insights into how much data your employees are using for their work. And the number of people with access to dashboards will give you more insights into how many employees are using descriptive analytics. For example, to track certain business objectives or to make more data-driven decisions.

In the end, you can relate all these metrics back to the business performance metrics of the entire organization or specific teams. For example, is there a noticeable increase in revenue when sales managers are using dashboards more (frequently)? Or is there an increase in marketing ROI, when marketers use data tools more frequently? These associations can give you a better understanding of how your data literacy program is influencing business metrics through tool adoption rates.

3. Measure the potential costs of not having a data literacy program

Another angle of quantifying the value of your data literacy program is by measuring the costs associated with not having it. The potential costs of a workforce that is not data literate are, for example:

  • The costs of hiring external data analysts (because you don’t have the skills in-house)
  • The costs of losing employees (because they don’t learn the skills of the future)
  • The costs of potential data leaks (because employees are not skilled in data governance)

Organizations that invest in training their current employees in data literacy potentially save costs on hiring external data analysts. But not only that, upskilling your current employees could also position yourself as a forward-thinking employer, by teaching your employees the skills of the future. This could for example help you retain your current people and attract new, data-literate professionals to your organization.

Also, when you have a data-literate workforce, that is trained in data governance, they will be more likely to manage and use your data securely. If this is not managed securely, a data leak could happen which could lead to a lot of costs to fix it. In many cases the costs associated with a data literacy training program are many multiples less than any of these risks will cost your organization on its own; let alone if all the costs would be added up.

In this context, data literacy isn’t just a nice-to-have skill; it has become a business imperative. By calculating all the potential costs, you can quantify the potential value that upskilling your workforce in data literacy brings.

4. Measure if and how team members challenge each other on data and statistics

If your organization values data-driven decision-making over decision-making based on a gut feeling, you could measure if and how team members discuss data and statistics. In this context, a data literacy program is not only responsible for creating value but also fostering a certain way of working.

A highly data-literate workforce is likely going to challenge each other more in meetings on statistics than a workforce where data literacy is low. The reasoning behind this is that if you are more data literate, you can ask better questions about presented data or challenge someone on a questionable statistic.

By measuring if (and how) teams or team members challenge each other on data and statistics before, and after, implementing your data literacy program, you will be able to identify and quantify the impact of the program on fostering a data-driven culture. One concrete example of how to measure this is by letting data coaches attend meetings before, and after, the data literacy program, and observe how data is used in discussions.

5. Measure the number of conducted experiments

If your organization values a culture of continuous improvement and learning, you could measure how your data literacy program affects this. For example, you can create a KPI that tracks the number of conducted experiments by teams or departments. The hypothesis is that experimentation is often a direct result of increased data literacy, as employees feel more confident in their ability to analyze and draw insights from data.

By measuring the number of experiments conducted before, and after, you implemented your data literacy program, you can effectively quantify if your data literacy program was successful at increasing the number of experiments conducted. This can help you quantify how effective your data literacy program was in fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning.

Final thoughts

Quantifying the value of data literacy programs may seem daunting at first, but it can be done via many different methods. In essence, it all comes down to measuring your most important business metrics, before, and after implementing your data literacy program. For this you can use simplistic KPIs such as certifications awarded, but also tool adoption rates, team members challenging each other on data, or the number of conducted experiments.

There is no one-size-fits-all method to use and depending on what your organization values certain methods will be more helpful than others. Nevertheless, an investment in data literacy programs is often an investment with a high ROI for organizations that want to work data-driven. Having data is not enough. It is how your entire organization can interpret and work with data that creates the real competitive advantage.

How Data Booster can help

If you are looking to upskill your workforce with data literacy skills, you have come to the right place. At Data Booster we create customized data literacy programs, using your organization’s data, metrics, and business problems. This method has been proven to not only teach but also change the work behavior of the workforce for the better. If you find this interesting you should consider reading:

How Data Booster helped Uber by making their employees use 20x more data in decision-making

How Data Booster helped Just Eat Takeaway by increasing their employee data skill level by +22%