How to think about the ROI of data work

ref: Mikkel Dengsøe

You get asked to estimate the ROI of your work, team or of hiring one more person.


Not all ROI is created equal.

There are five roles in a modern data team. The closer you’re to the left, the closer you’re to systems. The closer to the right, the closer you are to directly impacting a KPI. To keep it simple I’ll classify these roles into Systems People and KPI People.


The further you’re to the right the more your work should speak for itself through directly impacting a top-line KPI. The further you’re to the left the more the more you have impact by making data consumers downstream more efficient.


Some practical tips to what you can do

  • Systems People: Focus on maximising the number of consumers of your work (🎳) and on the impact your work has on each of them ( 🖇)
  • KPI People: Focus on reducing the steps between yourself and the KPI (Ƞ) and work on the highest ROI opportunities (💰)


In conclusion, everyone plays a role

  • Data Scientists and Data Analysts work faster if they have high quality data and good data models
  • Analytics and Data Engineers have multitudes of impact if their data models are used by many.