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Data Governance Best Practices

Posted by Datasource on Feb 24, 2017, 2:29:04 PM

Data Governance Best Practices


By: Datasource

Data Governance programs can be fraught with obstacles and hurdles; however, as mentioned in the first article in our Data Governance series, Data Governance Framework, Data Governance is a key component to any company that truly wants to leverage the full value of their data.

In an effort to help you build and receive the most benefit from your Data Governance Program, we’ve put together this article on the Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices.

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Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices:

The first chunk of Data Governance Best Practices are derived from our article on Data Governance Challenges: Understanding the Problem

#1: Where Does it Hurt? 

Identifying the pain points is going to be critical to the overall success of your Data Governance Program.  When you hear things like, “I can’t trust the data I’m getting, I’m still flying on instinct alone” or “Why can’t we break out the data so I can sue it?  I can’t see it in a way that is useful to me” realize your business users are crying out for a solid Data Governance Program.

#2: Understanding Business Value

You’ll need buy-in from the business community if you are going to get funding for the program.  Developing a solid understanding of the business value will go a long way.

#3: Program Focus vs. Project Focus

The final Data Governance Best Practice as it relates to Data Governance Challenges is about the long term focus for your Data Governance Program.  Data Governance is a program not a project; the tortoise, not the hare. 

In part two of our series titled Data Governance Strategy, we focused on eight different Data Governance Best Practices.  They are:

#4: Balance Strategy & Tactics

Yes, both strategy and tactics are important; you can’t have one without the other; however, Data Governance Best Practices recommend that your Data Governance Program needs a strategic focus.

It is vitally important to your success to first think about the overall Data Governance strategy; then, translate the strategy into tangible deliverables your business partners will appreciate.

#5: Vision

Having a clear vision goes a long way to being able to describe to stakeholders and others how the business will change as a result of the work we are doing.  Follow Stephen Covey’s advice and “Begin with the end in mind.”

#6: Paying for Your Program

Funding your program can be a challenge and Data Governance Best Practices state the best way to gather the needed funding is to talk to a lot of people and understand where opportunities exist.  Who knows, maybe you’ll come across the manager who knows where to find the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. 

#7: Justifying Your Program: Where to Look for Money

Many times you’ll be able to find the money just by listening for the proverbial “cry for help”.  Here are a few scenarios we commonly hear from our clients:  

  • Errors have been made as a result of poor data quality.
  • Decisions were held up while waiting for better (and often very manual) analytics.
  • Duplication of effort; multiple groups are maintaining or managing similar data assets.
  • Compliance risk and exposure.

#8: Don’t Over Plan

As you outline your Data Governance strategy and start working with your data, you’ll often find that there is a lot you don’t know and that you won’t know until you start your program.  Number eight of the Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices focuses on over planning.  While having a Data Governance strategy focused on the long term is important, it can be difficult to plan out every step.  At Datasource Consulting, we focus on 90 day blocks.  Give it a try.

#9: Break Down Silos

In order to break down the data silos, it is best to invite users and managers to be active participants in the Data Governance program and provide input for the Data Governance strategy.  This will help build trust and, over time, you’ll see data silos disappear.

#10: Bottom Up or Top Down

Is it better to approach Data Governance from the Top Down or the Bottom Up? 

Number 10 of the Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices is to accommodate both executives and operational managers.  Therefore, you will want to include both Top Down and Bottom Up approaches in your Data Governance Strategy.

#11: Use Key Metrics as a Guide

It is a best practice to use key metrics to help guide our Data Governance Strategy.  When we follow Data Governance Best Practices, we are able to address key questions such as:

  • Quality
  • Definition
  • Dimensionality

Placing priority on these, and other, key metrics will help focus the Data Governance strategy and provide a solid roadmap for completion.

The third part of our Data Governance series focused on Data Governance Best Practices for forming a Data Governance Council and your Data Governance Leadership.

#12: Executive Sponsorship

As we know, Data Governance impacts everyone in the organization, and the more visible your Data Governance program is at the top of the organization, the more likely you are going to have success. 

Below are five simple Data Governance Best Practices that will help you develop your team:

  • Cast a Wide Net
  • Alignment
  • Champion
  • Educate sponsors
  • Why

Following these five tips will help you develop solid Executive Sponsorship support and target key players to be part of your Data Governance Council.

#13: Data Governance Council

The process you’ll use to identify your Data Governance Council will be very similar to the process you just followed to identify your Executive Sponsors: Cast a Wide Net, Alignment, Champion, etc., all of these elements will play a part in selecting the right team and maintaining momentum.  Just remember, having members from different areas of the business promotes quality collaboration and fair representation.

#14: Culture Change

A good Data Governance Program will also change the company culture. The culture change falls into many different categories including:

  • Use: How you use, share, and act on data to drive the business
  • Ownership: Who owns and manages the data
  • Governing: Applying principles and controls to govern data

All of these things will impact the culture of how companies consume information.

Up to this point, we’ve covered Data Governance Best Practices in three different areas; Data Governance Challenges: Understanding the Problem, Data Governance Strategy, Data Governance Organizing.  The next section will focus on Data Governance Best Practices for Marketing your Data Governance Program.

#15: Marketing for Program Success

Strong marketing can help generate enthusiasm for the campaign and help make it more engaging and exciting to your audience.

Here are a few Data Governance Best Practices for marketing your Data Governance Program:

  • Find Champions
  • Sell the Program
  • Branding

#16: Create an Elevator Speech

Remember, everyone is selling the Data Governance program – all of the time.  Developing an “Elevator Speech” is a great way to take tell a story and condense the complex message of Data Governance down to its most impactful elements.

#17: Know Your Baseline Metrics

Metrics are important and provide a benchmark against future performance.  There are a lot of different ways you can measure your program including;

  • Assets under Management
  • Compliance with governance practice
  • Maturity level on a Data Governance maturity scale or Analytics maturity scale

Regardless of the metrics you use, developing metrics are some fundamental Data Governance Best Practices.

#18: Spread the News!  Communicate!

Enlist the help of your marketing team and start spreading the word.  Listed below are a few of the many different ways to market your Data Governance Program.

  • Brochures
  • Articles
  • Showcase your progress
  • Annual Report

We’re on the last leg of our Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices.  The final section will cover tips around Data Governance Implementation.  We’ve also thrown in a few added bonus items as well.

#19: Business First, Then Technology

The central work of governance begins with addressing business challenges, not with finding solutions in technology; therefore, the first step in your Data Governance Implementation. Plan should be to focus on the fundamentals and create a solid partnership between business and technology.

#20: Pick a Project & Make it Real

It’s time take the training wheels off and complete an actual project.  Find a project where you can show the fruits of your labor and knock it out of the park.

BONUS: The Realities of Compliance Challenges & Regulated Industries

Compliance is an important element for you Data Governance Program.  Today, we have a global economy.  What this means is compliance & regulation are worldwide challenges.  Business Intelligence & Data Warehouse systems (based in the US or elsewhere) are subject to exposure and the same regulatory scrutiny as source systems.  Data is a potential threat to businesses if it isn’t managed well.

Compliance & Business Intelligence

We all understand compliance and Business Intelligence go hand in hand.  And, any article on building a Data Governance Program wouldn’t be complete without mentioning several tips on compliance and Business Intelligence; therefore, we’ve outlined several Data Governance Best Practices below.

Align with your Compliance Program: It is a Data Governance Best Practice to integrate your compliance & Data Governance Programs. If you have a Compliance Officer, it may be a good idea to recruit as part of your governance team.  

Integrate Compliance & Business Intelligence: Compliance policies should also be integrated in your Data Governance Program. Data assets change and grow over time and the integration with your compliance policies provides a frequent level of monitoring for your program.

Define Ownership: Defining ownership will clearly identify who will lead specific portions of the Data Governance Implementation Plan and who is responsible for the end result.

Compliance Training Program: Privacy around data (especially PII and PHI) is at an all-time high. It is a best practice to establish rigorous compliance training program for everyone who manages or interacts with data. 

Metadata Management & Compliance: It is a Data Governance Best Practice to utilize metadata management for the identification and classification of potentially risk-inducing areas. Also, don’t forget to align security & access policies with metadata classification.  Doing these two things will help to make sure you stay compliant.

Additional Data Governance Best Practices: An effective governance program should also consider the following best practices for managing risk with PII and/or PHI:

  • Metadata: Classification of Risk Detection (as mentioned above)
  • Masking, Anonymizing and De-Identification
  • Aggregation
  • Storage
  • Access & Security
  • And others…

Data Governance Best Practices Recap:

In this article we’ve outlined the Top 20 Data Governance Best Practices. If you’d like further detail on any of the tips, feel free to read the topic specific articles (links below) that were referenced in the article or download the full Data Governance eBook. 

  1. Data Governance Framework: an overview of the five components of a solid Data Governance Program.
  2. Understanding the Problem: how to understand the organization’s pain point and address them
  3. Strategy & Planning: developing a plan to focus on the pain points
  4. Organizing: how to recruit a dedicated cross-functional team of executive sponsors and governors who can help promote the message and do the hard work
  5. Communicating: using many vehicles to communicate the program, illustrate the value of what you’re doing, and showcase success
  6. Executing: deliver quick wins, early and often

As a reminder, if you’d like us to evaluate your current Data Governance Program, or help you with your Data Governance Best Practices, please contact us by phone at 888-453-2624 or through the form on our contact us page. 

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Topics: Data Governance, Blog

Written by Datasource