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4 Steps to Data Governance Success

Jeff Gorball
2/25/16 3:24 PM

Implementing data governance is difficult, but having a program that survives and provides recognizable value is more difficult. Here are four steps to ensure success for your data governance program. 

#1 TIE TO STRATEGIC GOALSThinkstockPhotos-166840160.jpg

Regardless of the reasons used to initiate the data governance program, if you can’t communicate how it supports the main business and strategic goals, you can’t sustain support. Governance initially adds work to the organization. That work must be able to tie directly to the main purpose of the business and directly support strategic goals to be positioned as value-add. 


Too many think data governance is a CDO or CIO ‘thing’. It’s not. Data governance is about making certain the firm can trust the data it needs. The CDO or CIO’s job is about ensuring the resources and processes are in place in a consistent fashion across the organization to ensure data meets business needs. The data owners and business leaders that use the data must be involved. They determine the needs, definitions, criteria and rules of use. If they are not actively engaged and seeing value it will fail.   


If the leadership and key stakeholders do not accept and regularly champion the effort as a change of culture, then it is doomed to fail. By definition, data governance needs to be an explicit part of the daily work of the company. If that were already part of the culture, then the data should be of quality, integrity and meeting business needs. If a data governance initiative is necessary, it speaks to the need for cultural change – it has to be strongly championed – it will take time. 


The hardest part. There are a number of things that can be used to effectively measure and communicate progress and value being provided.  Measurements of data quality or availability are often used, but if you don't have integrity of your measurements or historical measures you may not be able to begin with those. Often for early stage programs, measuring against a program-level implementation baseline is the best way to track progress until trusted measures of quality improvements can be used. Regular checkpoints on implementation and process execution are critical. Regardless of the measurements used to monitor value and track progress, it's essential that these are regularly communicated to leadership and stakeholders. 

When I work with organizations, the first best step is to simply start a plan - start the process and from there the rest of the pieces will fall into place nicely. 

Let us know if we can help. 

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