Data governance at an institution is an on-going activity and like all major activities, needs buy-in from above for it to be successful. Since data governance requires input from many departments, don't try to do too much too fast. Make sure that you don’t have scope creep in regard to your data governance. As with other projects, make sure you start with why you are doing this. Make sure that everyone understands the return on investment (ROI). Check out our blog post on the ROI of data governance. Make sure that everyone knows that data governance is not easy, but it is to their benefit that this work be successful.
Our definition for pragmatic data governance is the following: “Data Governance is about best-practices designed to help people access, understand, connect, protect, and effectively use your organization’s data across all systems.”
The key words in that definition are “to help people”. If data governance is not helping and enabling people to get and understand the data, then why do it? To get buy-in you must convey how it helps people and helps the institution.
Why is data governance so hard to get started?
Here are our thoughts:
1. Instant Scope Creep - Everyone has an opinion on what it is, where to start, what is important, tools to use, who is in charge and who else is going to do the work. Start small and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Data governance takes time. Maybe start with one department and just a few of the enthusiastic members. Have a first step, such as a sticky note on who to call when you have a data issue. Maybe focus first on the data system inventory as that is one of the more definable areas of data governance.
2. Lots of Hard Work - Documenting definitions, creating processes, maintaining a knowledge base, handling data requests, resolving data quality issues, etc. is not easy. Admit it up front. Make sure that folks have time to do their regular job before assigning them data governance responsibilities.
3. Organizational Politics - A data governance project must be collaborative, and usually involves departments that have never worked together or don’t work well together. Determine the approach being used to implement data governance at your institution. Is this a top down approach which an initiative by edict? Or is this a bottom-up approach which is rogue and led by example? Or maybe it is a hybrid approach (more typical and usually more successful) which is bottom-up approach with cover from the top. Find individuals for the project that can work well together and are committed to the success of the project.
4. Unrealistic Expectations – Don't over promise. Remember that it takes people to implement data governance. Some people resist change. Start with your enthusiastic champions or a small team. Focus on people that want to do it first. Avoid forcing anyone to get on board without having their buy-in. Make it easy for people to participate. Provide examples, templates and tools that will help them in their job. The tools should facilitate the people and the best practices. Don’t expect success if the first thing you ask them to do is create work rather than find answers/help. Give before you get. And try to import content where possible.
5. Poor Goal Setting – First, understand why you are implementing a data governance program. And communicate that reason. Make data governance real. Apply best practices. Do not expect success if the discussions are hypothetical. Don’t let your data governance program be just a binder on a shelf.
We hope that by understanding the issues in starting and maintaining a data governance project, it will assist you in having successful long term data governance. Of course it comes down to the people involved. Selection of the right people for the data governance team is critical. And remember, it is OK to start small with a small number of folks.
IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the institution in its data governance efforts. IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.
(image credit StockSnap_SO40QMGQUJ_organizationbuyin_BP #1066)