In this serialisation we are considering the why’s and how’s of Data Governance. Understanding and shaping your motivations will ensure that the project is on a sound footing, and ultimately lead to success. With everyone knowing what they are doing it for, there can be no doubt.
The three important motivators
There are three universal drivers that any Data Governance effort will be tied back to. These are:
- Increased revenue or value – financial benefit
- Managing costs and complexity – manage costs and business
- Ensuring survival – manage risks and vulnerabilities such as compliance, security and privacy
Be afraid – be very afraid
Motivators are both positive and negative. Businesses may be worried because they have experienced or, could experience, any of the following:
- Data disasters – an event that gets press coverage for the wrong reasons or leads to a substantial fine;
- Inefficiencies – action or inaction that leads to lost time, resources or opportunities;
- Bad decision making – decisions made on incomplete, inaccurate or out of data information;
- Non compliance – an inability to achieve or maintain regulatory compliance;
- Complexity – issues arising from complexities of known and unknown sources e.g. spreadsheets;
- Data integration – an inability to integrate solutions due to data issues; and
- Poor cohesion – the efforts of one part of the business creating additional effort for others.
The bulleted points are powerful motivators in the decision whether or not to implement Data Governance. Perhaps some of them resonate? What are your motivations?
Dare to dream
In business as in life, the importance of goals cannot be overstated. What better way to influence behaviour than with aspirational targets. They may not be reached, that much is true, but regardless we’ll end up some along the track and at the very least heading in the right direction. And so it is for Data Governance. Dare to dream! Set your goals so that everyone knows why you are embarking on the project.
Here are a few goals that may help steer the conversation:
- We can realise value from our data
- We can be more competitive in the market
- We can drive out inefficiencies
- We can differentiate ourselves from our competition
- We know that we are compliant with all regulation and compliance laws and we can prove it
- We can exchange unambiguous information with our customers
- Everyone knows what to do with their data, is sure of their actions, and not afraid to make decisions
Let’s face it, these are all things that business would like to achieve. Sometimes they can be performed as one off projects, but increasingly they are seen as a backdrop to implementing Data Governance.
Once we’ve considered and outlined our motivations for governance, and considered our goals, we need some guiding principles and an overarching strategy. The principles of our programme will underpin our strategy and may include:
- Integrity – we would like people in the programme to operate with integrity and honesty, and to work together to resolve problems
- Transparency – we want our processes and responsibilities to group and individuals to be clearly laid out
- Auditability – we want decisions, processes and controls to be easily auditable
- Accountability – we want people to be accountable for their actions, so decisions are carried through correctly
- Checks and Balances – we want the business to be well represented such that there are checks and balances between business and technology, those who create and collect information, those who manage and use it, and between those who introduce standards and compliance requirements.
- Standardisation – we want our Governance principles to simply data by standardising wherever possible e.g. data standards, processes and technology.
- Change Management – we want our Governance Office to manage change of data itself, data structure, and data implementation. In essence to be a one stop shop for all things data.
With everything considered we can begin the process of defining our strategy. This typically touches all the areas of the business and may involve many separate conversations. Keep in mind that it is important to have buy in from everyone and all the work we’ve done in defining our motivations, goals and principles will pay dividends. However, as we are trying to find consensus across the business this often proves to be the most difficult element of the project. Groups and Individuals will fight to have their voice heard, they will resist change, and will likely find lots of reasons not to want additional governance in the organisation. Hopefully, your compelling thoughts and well constructed case will win the day.