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Data Governance Challenges: Understanding the Problem

Posted by Datasource on Jan 27, 2017 3:44:00 PM

Understanding the Problem


By: Datasource

As outlined in the first article of the series, Data Governance Framework: Five Essential Components of a Solid Data Governance Program, Data Governance is a key component for many organizations.  However, many companies don’t know where to start. At Datasource Consulting, we manage and build Data Governance Programs for many of our clients and frequently start by understanding the Data Governance challenges facing their organization.

(FYI – Would you like us to evaluate and fine tune your current Data Governance Program?  Please call us at 888-453-2624 or complete the form on our contact us page.)

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TIP #1: Where Does it Hurt? 

Dentists and parents are some of the most common groups of people asking the question, “Where does it hurt”?  As you know, the motivation behind the question is focused on alleviating pain.  In a similar manner, as the Director of Data Governance for your organization, you need to be willing to play the part of the dentist or the concerned parent and ask, “Where does it hurt”?  The goal of asking this question is to isolate the Data Governance Challenges your company faces.  It will be important to identify where the pain resides in your information delivery systems; and, in how information gets consumed in your businesses. 

Listed below are the Top Five Data Governance Challenges you may hear as you listen to your users.

Top Five Data Governance Challenges
  1. “I can’t trust the data I’m getting, I’m still flying on instinct alone.” Data Governance Challenges like these are fairly common and directly point to a need for a Data Governance program.
  2. “Why can’t we break out the data so I can use it? I can’t see it in a way that is useful to me.”  Very often, the root cause of these Data Governance challenges comes back to the way the data is currently structured.  In its current format, the data isn’t useful to the user; however, a solid Data Governance Program will help.
  3. “Why does it seem this information doesn’t tie to that information? Aren’t we all one company here?”  Data Governance challenges of this nature points directly to data silos.  We’ll cover data silos more in depth in the next part in the series titled <hyperlink to next article in the series>Data Governance Strategy<end hyperlink>.  For now, just realize that the business user is screaming for a Data Governance Program.
  4. “Does anybody actually look at this data before it gets on my desk? Why do I have to figure all this out on my own?”  Quite often we hear of Data Governance challenges where spreadsheets overtake an office like a huge tidal wave, piling up on the desktops of executives.  In order to do their job and make the hard decisions, executives sift through the data deluge in order to inefficiently process the information.  Your Data Governance Program can be their life jacket to efficiency (and sanity).
  5. “We are losing money because we can’t see risks and opportunities well enough. It’s here; but, we can’t see it.”  While Data Governance challenges like these may sound fairly similar to number four listed above, this particular response really points to an instinctual sense many executives have about missed opportunities.  Executives feel the opportunities are there, but they just can’t get to them because of the way the data is presented.  Organizing the data in a different, and more meaningful way will alleviate Data Governance challenges like these and empower executives to execute and make smarter decisions.

By asking and answering these, and other probing questions, you’ll gather a plethora of Data Governance challenges from your users assisting you as you lay a solid foundation for your Data Governance Program.

TIP #2: Understanding Business Value

If you’re going to get the funding for a project, you’ll need the buy-in from the business community.  Therefore, it almost goes without saying that you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the business value of your Data Governance Program.

Below is an abbreviated list of areas you need to keep in mind as you get started on your Data Governance journey.

Top Five Business Values for your Data Governance Program
  1. Adding focus and structure to data to enable you to meet your strategic and operational goals
  2. Providing insights that help you uncover missed opportunities and risks
  3. Serving your stakeholders more effectively with better information - Yes, this is a general statement; however, let’s keep the overall goals in mind. If you’d like to have stakeholders respond to the work you’re doing, having more structured governance and data delivery in place in their BI and application systems will help grease the wheels and alleviate their Data Governance Challenges at the same time.  Over time you’ll start to see stakeholders respond more favorably to a lot of the work you’re doing.
  4. Using data to optimize the organization’s performance - Yes, this is one of the key advantages for an organization when they have a strong Data Governance Program. Everyone inside the organization is looking for ways to use the information assets, currently on hand, to leverage decision making and make more efficient uses of available resources.
  5. Enable a full range of advanced analytics

Whether you are on the lower end of the analytics maturity bell curve or on the higher end, a solid Data Governance Program will help you improve your analytics maturity.

TIP #3: Program Focus vs. Project Focus

The final tip regarding Data Governance challenges is about the long term focus for your Data Governance Program.  Data Governance can go in many different directions.  When you bring the Data Governance challenges and the business value together, you bring your Data Governance program into focus.  It is true that you do want to have some quick wins so you can start to show the results of your hard work (and solve the most pressing Data Governance challenges your executives face); however, at the same time, some people will try to plan all of the different areas of the data management body of knowledge and attempt to move the needle on everything all at once – a very lofty goal. 

Remember, this is a program not a project; the tortoise, not the hare.  A Data Governance Program will span several years and establish practices your organization will initiate over a long period of time.  Yes, you will have individual projects along the way; however, it is best to pick your focus and realize you’re in it for the long haul solving one Data Governance challenge at a time.

The next article in the series will cover Data Governance Strategy.  In the article, we’ll cover eight different tips for your Data Governance Program.

As a reminder, if you’d like us to evaluate your current Data Governance Program, please contact us by using the form on our contact us page or by calling us directly at 888-453-2624.

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Topics: Data Governance, Program Management, Blog

Written by Datasource