Data governance lessons from a disappointing weekend

Springbok RugbyThis weekend was a disappointing one for South African sports fans.

Both our rugby and cricket teams suffered defeats in games that they could have, and arguably should have, won.

In both the rugby and the cricket game key players did not come to the party.

The resulting poor tactical execution lead to missed opportunities that, if they had been taken, may have lead to South African victories.

In the cricket, our batsmen failed to capitalize on a good start, leaving us 20 or so runs short of a decent total.

In the rugby, we dominated the set pieces only to see our back line squander try scoring opportunities with poor handling.

Just like in sport, successful data governance programs require these two elements for success. [Tweet this]

1. Key players need to buy in to the data governance program and broadcast their successes.

These stakeholders do not need to be C level executives – they simply need to be sufficiently high profile that their opinions count – and they need to act as champions for the value that data governance is adding for them.

When the value of data governance is being broadcast it helps to maintain momentum and it helps to bring in additional stakeholders, who may have initially been skeptical but can now see the opportunity. It may be a cliche, but success breeds success.

2. Sound tactical execution

Many data governance programs get stuck in planning or strategy – debating ideal processes or organisational structures for months at a time.

Conceptually we understand the value but we may struggle to implement at a practical level.

Without tactical wins we may end up after three months or six months with a lot of time spent in meetings, and a lot of energy dispersed in communications, without anything practical to show for our efforts. This is when we start to lose enthusiasm and our data governance program may just fizzle out.

Tactical wins may, for example, focus on the delivery of a shared business data glossary for a key project or area – ensuring that calculations and terms are consistently applied and that we can trust our results as discussed in last weeks post – Why EPS is not always an indicator of value! Context can be of real value in is often not clear in real world reporting environments.

Or we may define and communicate our data policies for compliance with new legislation – such as PoPI or Basel III – and link these to clear data standards and rules.

Or we may look at reference data, or business data flows and lineage, or data quality to support a key initiative, or any combination of these.

What is critical is that each of these tactical projects involve both business and IT stakeholders and that the de facto processes and structures that emerge are understood. [Tweet this]

Lessons learnt from these informal processes and structures can be used to define the formal data governance structures that will support broader initiatives.

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