Single Source of Truth: What it is, and why your business needs one


As people produce work in “silos”, duplicate information is created: duplicate process, duplicate pieces of content, and so on. As more people or projects come into the mix, multiple data silos are created as well as competing versions of the truth.

Which process is the standard? Which verbiage is within the company brand? Which template is ideal? What information do we collect, and how do we interpret and use it?

By now you know that productivity is of particular importance to me. And the situation described above is not productive. Many hours will be lost, and mistakes made when operating in this way.

At a certain point in every business, it becomes necessary to decide on a consistent way for everyone in the company to operate to avoid overlap, duplication, and using outdated information. Depending on the type of business, each will need a standard for how they will analyze and interpret data, use consistent verbiage, follow project protocols, onboard and train employees, etc.

But what is this magic state of being that brings everything back together in one coordinated, reliable place?

The concept is called the single source of truth. And every company needs one.

What is a single source of truth?

A single source of truth (SSOT) is a data storage principle for managing company knowledge by synchronizing data or content so it is sourced, mastered, and edited in only one place. This way, everyone in the organization takes action and makes decisions based on the same data. Hence the name, single source of truth.

Establishing a single source of truth eliminates the issues of confusion, duplication, and lost productivity. Instead of debating which data sources should be used as company standard, or spending time sifting through competing data and content, everyone can have access to the same reliable source of information.

The key message here is, the worst thing you can do for productivity in your company is to have multiple systems containing duplicated data. Worse would be having more than one project management tool. This is no problem if one team uses their own tool and they work in a “silo”. However, as soon as they need to collaborate with other departments where teams use different tools, things will stop working.

People will start searching for information and duplicating data in two systems if there is no way to sync them. This will decrease the overall productivity and motivation of people working in this ecosystem. This is why a single source of truth needs to be defined for the company.

Creating an SSOT starts by deciding on a single source for storing data, and then making that source available to employees to use. The type of storage system can vary based on the needs of the organization.

Although deciding on an SSOT for locating and storing data can seem relatively simple, integrating disparate information that has spread through an organization can be difficult, depending on the size of the company, and the amount of data it has amassed.

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