Change Management and Continuous Improvement Necessary for Data Governance

Change Management and Continuous Improvement Necessary for Data Governance

StockSnap_EIEHYTPCFT_WomanFrustrated_ChangeManagement_BPA data intelligence or data governance initiative at an organization involves change and is not easy to perform. Acknowledge that change is difficult. You understand that any change is complex to implement, and you must keep it as simple as possible. You realize that there will be time savings and better decision making as the data intelligence initiative continues. In this blog post we share some thoughts about implementing a data intelligence or data governance initiative at your organization so that it is successful.

The change due to any new initiative needs to be managed. Change helps solve business issues by aligning people and processes to strategic initiatives that will help an organization achieve its business vision.  It means asking people to change the way they think and behave.  For change to happen you need buy-in from management and others to achieve the organization's goal of an orderly and effective transformation.

The market changes. New competitors come onto the scene. The tools and processes change. Staff changes. And the data changes. New data related content is created. Any good organization understands change will happen and thus needs change management in place. Change management depends on an effective communications program, as well as foundational knowledge on the part of the audience, established by education. It requires participation from leadership and consideration of the human factors related to change.

There is a marketing component to convey the benefits and advantages of the change.  Change is a learning and growth opportunity for individuals.  Change can be managed successfully through planning, listening, communicating, using the right tools, and an emphasis on the benefits of the change for the individuals and the organization.

Note that there are two sides to a change initiative. The business side which focuses on the who, what, when, where, and why side of the initiative. And there is the people side which addresses the reorientation people must go through as they come to terms with their new situation due to the initiative. People must let go of the old way of doing things before getting comfortable with the new way. Everyone adapts to change at different speeds, and this rarely aligns with the organization’s timeframe. People are often resistant to change. It involves going into unfamiliar areas and changes to their job function. People often feel overloaded with current responsibilities and do not believe they can cope with anything new that comes from a new initiative. And people are often skeptical about initiatives if previous attempts have failed.

The organization’s change management plans, as it relates to a data governance initiative, should consider what needs to be accomplished to realize meaningful improvements from the proposed change including:

  1. Roadmap - Seek input from those affected by the change and determine what will be different and what the new requirements are.  Demonstrate that you are listening. Solicit feedback regarding the initiative from your stakeholder types, and connect actions taken to the input you receive. Focus on selecting not just the right tasks but also the right number of tasks. You cannot do everything at once. A data intelligence initiative involves many tasks in many areas and takes a long time. Keep the tasks as simple as possible. Keep in mind that unexpected situations arise that will require time and resources. Identify those affected by the change, including roles upstream and downstream from the change e.g., data domain owners, technical data stewards. Select effective change leaders, including those now responsible for current processes.  Create a simple roadmap document.  Check out our "Want to Know About Data Governance Assessments and Roadmaps?  Here's Some Resources." blog post.
  2. Goal - Describe a clear vision of the change e.g., a new data quality policy. Start with why.  Begin with the end in mind when implementing data intelligence. Stay true to the original goals of the initiative as much as possible and avoid or scope creep. Those working at an organization must know why certain tasks are necessary. Identify the “pain point” or problem area in your organization that is driving the need for this initiative. From the problems (such as a data quality issue or lack of data request system), create small controllable tasks that will solve these problems. Be clear about why you are doing this and communicate why.  Feel free to view our recorded webinar "Setting Goals and Creating Your Data Governance/Data Intelligence Roadmap".
  3. Communicate - Different data-related audiences (management, data consumers and data stewards) require different communications regarding data governance. You want to get the right information about your data to the right people at the right time. Do not over communicate about the initiative but do not under communicate as well. Use different communication channels and communication content to keep the necessary people informed. Think of alternative ways to reach out to both enthusiastic and hesitant team members. Check out our "Here's Some Data Intelligence Resources Regarding Training and Communication" blog post.
  4. Training - Determine the education and/or skills foundation that the varying audiences should have regarding data governance. Training needs to occur during new employee onboarding and there needs to be ongoing training. Data steward training is different from data user training. Use the “train the trainers” approach. The data stewards are the folks that the data users will go to when there are issues with data or requests for data. It is important that the training be easy for employees to access.  Check out our "Here's Some Data Intelligence Resources Regarding Training and Communication" blog post.
  5. Buy-in – For data governance to succeed, adequate funding and time commitments must be secured. For example, budget for training resources, purchase of a data governance solution, modifications to intranet site on data governance, and additional staff. As with any initiative, data governance and data intelligence need buy-in from a variety of individuals including support from leaders or upper management for the initiative to succeed. And the organization’s staff must have the motivation and desire to participate in the changes that the initiative will bring. Data stewards are a critical component in the initiative’s success and must be included in the buy-in.  See our "Creating Organization Buy-in for Data Governance" blog post.
  6. Measure - Producing metrics is an integral aspect of the data governance initiative. Metric examples include: number of attendees at training events, number of specifications written during the past month, number of certified reports created, survey results, and data quality improvements due to new quality rules.  For more, read our "Data Intelligence and Data Governance - How and What to Measure" blog post.
  7. Engagement – Engaging staff in conversations about the data governance initiative enables them to understand more about the change. Enabling staff involvement, especially when it directly impacts them and how they work, increases support for the change. Provide staff with easy points of engagement with data governance such as accessing data governance information right from the report they are viewing and being able to make data requests during that viewing as well. For more information then view our "Understanding Data Governance Points of Engagement" blog post.

Remember to keep data governance and data intelligence moving forward and improving. You want continuous improvement. Also remember that data governance only adds value if there is engagement with the content that supports your goals. Do not let data governance and data intelligence be a binder on a shelf. Data governance is something that is on-going.  It is not a project that is done and put on the shelf somewhere. New and updated data governance content creates continuous value and supports your organization’s goals. Content should be created with a customer service approach, data help desk approach, and just-in-time approach. Allow folks to request new information and get answers to their questions. 

We hope that this blog post aids you in the success of your data governance or data intelligence initiative. The journey is not easy but will be beneficial.  Additional resources for getting started (or restarted) with data governance can be found in our “Starting Data Governance? Here are Some Helpful Resources" blog post.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance and data intelligence efforts including data requests. 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.

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Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]

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