Data value map

The purpose of the Data Value Map is to spark new conversations and new thinking about how data initiatives can add value to an organisation. 

This resource and the following information was contributed by Gail Birkbeck, Former Head of Strategic Learning & Evaluation (Euro-Africa) at The Atlantic Philanthropies (from 2004-2017) .

Authors and their affiliation

Dr Tadhg Nagle and Prof Dave Sammon, both at University College Cork (Ireland)​

Year of publication


Type of resource


Key features

Originating in the Information Sciences, this visual map considers how data is acquiredintegratedanalysed and delivered to end users. Underpinning these components is the issue of governance and the promotion of behaviour for good data practice. Completion of the map is guided by a series of short questions.

You can find a paper on the Data Value Map here.

If you have any questions about the people, process or technology component of a data project the Data Value Map is a great starting point. Go to for an excellent how-to-guide as well as a YouTube clip on building a model of data in your organisation.
The tool was developed using design science research and evaluated by practitioners in real-world settings. 

Who is this resource useful for?

  • • Advocates for evaluation
    • Commissioners/managers of evaluation
    • Evaluation users
    • Evaluators
    • Those involved in evaluation capacity strengthening
    • Other – Knowledge Brokers / Knowledge translators

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

What is especially helpful about the Data Value Map is how it creates a shared understanding among a range of stakeholders about the data in an organisation. The consideration the tool affords to issues of data governance such as data access and data lifecycle was particularly relevant to me in my (former) role as Head of Strategic Learning and Evaluation in a foundation that was spending down and where projects, that had generated vast amounts of evaluation data, had to consider issues such as data ownership, data protection and sharing data with others.
More recently it has proved very useful in planning how to monitor and evaluate strategy as well as in developing an actionable data strategy for a not-for-profit organisation. Use of the Data Value Map demonstrated that monitoring data was not integrated with evaluation data which led to replication, as well as learning loss. In addition, it highlighted the extent of data the organisation acquired, generally as a by-product of other projects, but which wasn’t fully appreciated or used effectively. By using the Data Value Map every data source was in the one place and management had a model of all the data in their organisation.​

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This is a great tool on many levels.
Firstly, not only can the Data Value Map be used in planning a data project, it’s a great resource to chart and audit the existing data in an organisation such as; what data is gathered and by whom, where it’s stored, whether it is integrated with other datasets and how it is used and delivered to others.  Good data practice is also promoted in the governance component covering issues from metadata to data quality and data lifecycle. Data governance is one of the most important aspects of any data project, yet it’s a problem area for many organisations.
Secondly, the fact that it’s a visual tool helps to build understanding of all the components of any data gathering exercise and how they are linked. Much has been written about the persistent communication gaps between the data creator and the data user. However, the visual nature of this tool can help remedy this by making clear all from steps from data generation to when it is used. It also encourages conversations about how to unpack learning to appeal to different needs and audiences.
Finally, in 2014 Desouza & Smith stated that “nonprofits and other social change organizations are lagging their counterparts in the scientific and business communities in collecting and analyzing the vast amounts of data that are being generated by digital technology” (p. 39). Use of the Data Value Map may alter this trend by helping non-profits to rethink how data is collected, stored, analysed and delivered in their efforts to tackle persistent social problems.


Nagle, Tadhg and Sammon, David, (2017). "THE DATA VALUE MAP: A FRAMEWORK FOR DEVELOPING SHARED UNDERSTANDING ON DATA INITIATIVES". In Proceedings of the 25th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Guimarães, Portugal, June 5-10, 2017 (pp. 1439-1452). ISBN 978-989-20-7655-3 Research Papers.

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A special thanks to this page's contributors
Resource Suggested By
Consultant, Gail Birkbeck.
Dublin, Ireland.


chadtgreen's picture
Chad T. Green

Very interesting.  I may just apply this to my work.

Alice Macfarlan's picture
Alice Macfarlan

Hi Chad, I'd love to know more about how you'd think the data value map would be useful in your particular area - is there a particular challenge you come up against that you think this would help with?

chadtgreen's picture
Chad T. Green

Hi Alice, in my school system we are in the process of learning Power BI but beyond the novelty of the tool, I think we would also benefit more from a shared understanding of data use among the different departments (research, IT, users).  On second throught, do you have any protocols based on your workshops?

Gail Birkbeck's picture
Gail Birkbeck

Hi Chad

Thanks for your enquiry. A paper describing version two of the Data Value Map (on the Evolution and Development section of presents a card to be completed for each section of data value map. I’ve copied some of the questions below.

Completion of these protocols for each component of the data value map (acquisition, integration, analysis, delivery, value and governance) will provide a lot of detail about a data initiative.

For a more simplified process, which can be useful at the start, it’s a good idea to develop an ‘as-is’ data value map to explore and facilitate shared understanding of a data project with a team or group of people. This process generally highlights gaps or ‘pain points’ in the process ( This map can be complemented by a future-looking ‘to-be’ map to identify new opportunities.

Hope this helps answer your question. Let me know if you have any other queries


Link to paper:

(Table 2: Acquisition Card:)


  • Why is it acquired? This seeks to uncover the motivation as to why the data is collected and provides a basis from which its alignment with the overall objective of the information supply chain can be judged.
  • What data is acquired? This asks to describe the data itself. This provides a label for the data (eg employee data) and if needed the exact fields in the data set acquired.
  • When is it acquired? This outlines the temporal aspect of the acquired data and can highlight potential data quality issues or bottlenecks in the data flow.


  • Who is it acquired from? To ensure all stakeholders are identified and the fact that data can be acquired from both internal and external sources, it is important that these people are identified if not fully included in the planning process.
  • Who acquires it? This outlines the people who are involved in the acquisition of the data. This can be frontline employees that manually acquire the data or technical staff that support automated acquisitions. 


  • Where is it acquired from? The need to detail the technologies/applications used by the sources is also important. Changes in these technologies, while possibly outside of an organizations’ control can have substantial impacts on the data flow.
  • Where is it stored? Once it is acquired the data will be stored in a particular technology/application, which will also need to be detailed.


  • How is it acquired? Finally, the process in which it is acquired is also needed. At a very simplistic level this can be either manual or automated but can be described in more detail if required.
chadtgreen's picture
Chad T. Green

Wonderful, this is just what I needed.  Thanks Gail!

Gail Birkbeck's picture
Gail Birkbeck

You're welcome! I would really welcome any feedback you have about the Data Value Map.

Thanks, Chad.

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