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Data Governance Challenges: Strategy & Planning

Posted by Datasource on Feb 24, 2017 2:29:39 PM

Strategy & Planning

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By: Datasource

Welcome to Part 3 in our multi-part series focused on Data Governance.  In our previous article titled Data Governance Challenges: Understanding the Problemwe focused heavily on how to identify pain points, ways to understand the business value, and how to improve the overall program focus.  In this article, we’ll continue with the next step for a Data Governance program and outline and developing the overall Data Governance strategy. This section will also cover one of the most pressing issues which is where to find the money for your Data Governance Program.



Tip #1: Balance Strategy & Tactics

Balancing strategy and tactics is one of the largest obstacles for any Data Governance Program.  It is at this point in the Data Governance lifecycle where we’ve seen many Data Governance programs stall.

Yes, both strategy and tactics are important; you can’t have one without the other; however, good programs 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.

Tip #2: Vision

Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says, “Begin with the End in Mind”.  At Datasource Consulting, we have a consistent focus on the end result. By focusing on the end goal and working backwards, we are able to clearly communicate the Data Governance Strategy to key stakeholders and show them what success will look like when we have implemented the program. 

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. It also helps us to stay focused on the goal.

Tip #3a: Paying for Your Program

Implementing a Data Governance program can be both costly and difficult; and, you will need to find the money to fund the program. 

If your company is fortunate, you may be able to say to your team, “This is essential!  We need this and we have to figure out how to pay for it.” However, most business don’t have the flexibility to proceed in this manner; they need to figure out how to justify the program first. We’ve outlined three different areas or targets that may help you fund your program:

  • Data Quality
  • Better Data Organization
  • More Timely data

The best way to gather the needed funding is to talk to a lot of people and understand where the opportunities exist.  Who knows, maybe you’ll come across the manager who knows where to find the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. 

Tip #3b:  Justifying Your Program: Where to Look for Money

Where do I go to find the Golden Eggs? Commence “Operation Easter Egg Hunt”. 

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. This is fairly common amongst companies today.  We’ve seen many situations where executives had to make decisions on the fly and in the blind because they could not put their hands on the information they needed.
  • Duplication of effort; multiple groups are maintaining or managing similar data assets. This speaks directly to Data Silos and is covered below in Tip #5: Break Down Silos.
  • Compliance risk and exposure. This is often a big reason for a solid Data Governance Program and something on which we’ll focus in an upcoming article.

Listed above is only a small sampling of areas to look for money.  Please know there are many more places to find money. At Datasource Consulting we routinely help our clients seek out the funds they need for their Data Governance program. If you’d like Datasource Consulting to help you with your Data Governance strategy, feel free to call us at 888-453-2624 or complete the form on our contact us page.

Tip #4:  Don’t Over-Plan

Do I focus on the long term or the short term?  The lyrics to The Game of Love by Santana featuring Michelle Branch offers us some direction. Michelle Branch sing, “A little bit this, a little bit of that.” It is best to keep your Data Governance Strategy focused on the long term and; at the same time, keep your plans focused on the short term. 

As you outline on 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. So, 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 both the long term and the short term. The Data Governance strategy we use focuses on what we can do in 90 day blocks of time. By breaking down the long term vision, we are able to keep a fairly near term view of what deliverables will look like.

Tip #5:  Break Down Silos

Many Data Governance programs have been built to rid a corporation of the need for data silos and deliver consistent data across an enterprise.

For those who may not be familiar, Data Silos are the Excel spread-marts traditionally managed by one person. Typically, users and management are unwilling to give up their “holy grails” until they have a more trusted and reliable source of information.

So, how do you rid an organization of the Data 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 by demonstrating how governance strengthens the value of data and reduces the risk of poorly informed decisions.  When people start to see your program working, they’ll give up their trusty data silos and you’ll see data silos disappear.

Tip #6:  Bottom Up or Top Down

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

As you craft your Data Governance strategy, it will be important 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.

Top Down:  Executives are focused on the big picture issues of the company. For that reason, their point of view typically comes from the top down. Overall, they want to see the results that line up with the big picture goals of the company.

Bottom Up: Operational managers will approach Data Governance from the bottom up – from the “trenches”. As a result, they’ll be focusing more on the granular data, day to day metrics, and how the process works.

Therefore, a Data Governance strategy that includes both points of view will have the best chance for success.

Tip #7:  Use Key Metrics as a Guide

Many times in this article we’ve iterated that focus will be critical to the success of your Data Governance Program. A key question to ask is, “What kinds of information are executives and managers consuming every day that is essential to them for the health and wellbeing of the business”?  Once we get a sense of the kinds of information that is being utilized on a daily basis, we can then use key metrics can help guide our Data Governance strategy and our priorities which enables us to address key questions such as:

  • Quality: Do we have a quality problem? 
  • Definition: Do we define things correctly and consistently across the organization? 
  • Dimensionality: Do we have the right dimensionality to categorize data? 
  • Calculation: Are we calculating things correctly? 
  • Aggregation: Are we aggregating the data up at the right level? 
  • Granularity: Are we proving enough granularity at the lowest level?
  • Integration: How well integrated are we across our different data assets? 

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

This completes part three of our Data Governance series and focused on crafting a comprehensive Data Governance strategy. The next article in the series focuses on the organization of the Data Governance program and highlights the Data Governance Challenges: Organizing

Datasource Consulting implements a proven Data Governance methodology focusing on both long term and short term plans and goals. If you’d like us to develop the Data Governance strategy and plan for your company please contact us.

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Topics: Data Governance, Blog

Written by Datasource