This is a different kind of blog post for me. I feel that every person in an organization that works with data (on that is almost everyone) is part of the data governance team. This blog post will discuss my small journey in helping with data governance at our organization. My hope is that people reading this post will see how they can help the data governance efforts at their organization. Luckily, we have a tool, the Data Cookbook, that I could use. I had a lot of information in my head that was not documented. I had Word documents, project templates, emails, and spreadsheets that I used in my position that probably could not be found by others or might not make sense to others. I needed to get this information in an accessible knowledgebase. Not the highest priority to get done, but I needed to over time document my tools, systems, processes, standards, and reports/spreadsheets that I use in my position of Director of Marketing. I wanted to make slow and steady progress on this.
Here is my journey:
- Made a list of tools and data systems that I use in my position such as video editing software, webinar platform, CRM, and marketing automation solution. Data systems are where there will be any data mappings. This took about 30 minutes.
- Made a list of the processes that I do in my function, such as how to produce a webinar, what do I do at the end of the month, what do I do at the end of the year, what do I do when there is a new marketing employee, etc. This took about 30 minutes and I entered these into a spreadsheet. I knew that I would think of additional processes in the next few weeks and would add them to this spreadsheet.
- Made a list of the best practices and standards that I follow such as company naming in our CRM. This took about 15 minutes and I entered these best practices and standards into the same spreadsheet as the processes. Might as well only have one list of items that needed to be documented.
- Made a list of the reports and spreadsheets that I use such as the list of upcoming webinars or email blasts. This took about 15 minutes and entered these into the same spreadsheet as the processes and best practices.
- Now that I had my lists (my assessment), I needed to make a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) goal. I wanted these marketing-related items to be documented (at least on a high-level basis) and be accessible by others in the organization. I knew I could not do it all at once so set a SMART goal to document one process, best practice, or report a week until they were all documented and then to communicate their availability to others in the organization. This took about 15 minutes to think about and firm up the goal.
- Now that I had my goal, I needed some additional training and help on the tool that I would be using, the Data Cookbook. I set up a meeting with one of our experts and explained what I wanted to do. At the virtual meeting, we added some reference data, made sure that my user setting was appropriate, made sure that marketing was set up correctly as a functional area and checked the approval workflows. This meeting took about 30 minutes.
- Needed to create some standards especially on naming. All my documentation about processes start with “Marketing Processes – “, my Best Practices start with “Marketing Best Practices and Standards – “, and all reports start with “Marketing Reports – “. This is for sorting and so that items can be easily found. I also made a note that I needed to tag the documentation correctly so that it can be found easily. For example, we do webinars. But these webinars can be demos, workshops, user group meetings, educational, etc. I wanted to make sure that I have all the appropriate tags such as: public, webinar, user, group, meeting, workshop, demo, etc. so that the documentation can be easily found. Thinking about the standards took about 30 minutes.
- Needed to create 3 groupings which we call collections. All my marketing processes documentation will go into the collection “Marketing Processes”, all my marketing best practices and standards documentation will go into the collection “Marketing Best Practices”, and all my marketing report documentation will go into the collection “Marketing Reports”. I will attach all future documentation to one of these collections so that they are grouped and easily found. You need to try to think how people will access your documentation and the search terms that they will use. This took about 15 minutes to create these collections in the Data Cookbook.
- Entered my data systems and data tools in the Data Cookbook, as I knew that I would link to these when I created my processes, best practices, and reports. I put down an owner for the data system or tool so that others would know who to contact to get access. During this entry, I made note of any questions I have about the tool that I am using. This took about 60 minutes to enter in these data tools and systems into the Data Cookbook.
- Created one process document (which we call a specification). I did one that had been previously drafted in a Word document. Then I created one best practice specification (one that I have previously drafted in an email to a workmate). And then I created one report specification on one of the more heavily used marketing spreadsheets. I realized that I had this spreadsheet on my computer but that it should be in a public area so that others can access. I moved the location of this spreadsheet. That happens a lot in data governance, one thing leads to another, and you make constant improvements that will be beneficial to the organization later. The report specification is just for now the list of the column headings and where the information came from. While doing this entry into the Data Cookbook, I made note of any questions I have about the tool. The time required to do each specification depends on many factors. If already documented, then only a few minutes. If doing the documentation from scratch then that might take some time.
- OK, I have done some initial entry and now I have questions. I set up another meeting with my tool expert. During the virtual meeting I received answers to my questions. Again, a short meeting, 30 minutes tops.
- Now, I am confident in the tool that I am using and have my list of things to document (remember that spreadsheet I created with the processes, best practices, and reports). I prioritized the list of what to document. Remember the goal of 1 document per week. Not everything has to be done at once. I look for items on the list that have already been documented elsewhere (the quick wins). Maybe even mark down the order that you want to document (your roadmap) in your spreadsheet. Of course, you can change the plan anytime. Say you get a request for something. That is the perfect time to document the process on how you handle that request. I set up reminders and tasks to do this documentation once a week. When you create your specification you can link to other documentation where appropriate (such as a project template). And I will continue this for a few weeks. When I saw terms that are not in the organization’s business glossary, I made a note about them so that they can be added later (by me or others).
- I am feeling good after a few weeks. I have documented all my data systems/tools and made progress on documenting some processes, standards, and reports. Now, I needed to communicate to others what I have done. I did a status report email and sent it to a few individuals in the organization that might want to know about this. I asked them about their documentation efforts to see if we can join forces on anything. I made a note (I added it to a project template) to notify new employees about the location of the documentation for marketing processes, best practices, and reports. I also made a note in my end of year process specification that I needed to review my documentation for any changes (such as a change in marketing tool).
- At all times, I am making ongoing efforts to the existing data governance-related documentation and supporting other data governance activities as I see them. Sometimes after I have shown others in the organization the best practices and standards, they have made suggestions for new best practices and standards. I immediately make the changes and approve them. That is what data governance is about. Helping people and making the small changes as you go to improve the information about your data and your processes. This does not have to be a big science project or need a big committee to make decisions. I am an empowered data steward in the functional area of marketing. This documentation is not a binder on a shelf (link to blog post) and is changeable at any time. Whenever I see a data quality issue (such as in our CRM solution), I either fix it myself or notify someone else. Whenever appropriate, I try to get others to do something similar in their department or on their team. Data governance is about incremental improvements and gets better with more people involvement and better content.
- Next as the first phase of my journey got nearer to completion, I documented the next phase and steps in my data governance journey. Remember that the journey never ends. This next phase includes adding more definitions into our business glossary, those that I wrote down from before. This could involve doing them myself (if I am the expert on the term) or working with other experts. I also want to get to a more detailed level and start on the data mappings necessary (integrations between systems). For any phase in the journey, you need to create a new SMART goal and a new roadmap.
Maybe your efforts will get others in the organization to think about their process documentation such as:
- How do we implement a solution for a new client?
- What happens when we have a new software release?
- How do we organize a company meeting?
- What happens when we get a new employee?
- How are contracts renewed?
- What happens at the end of the month in my department? At the end of the year?
- What starndards are followed when setting up a new customer?
- What do the columns mean in our monthly status report?
Often, the documentation for the above exists but not in an accessible location and thus, probably not beneficial to the organization. Even as a minimum, in the accessible knowledgebase, just have a link to the appropriate location, so that the documentation can be found and used by others. It would be helpful if departments or teams did their own data governance assessment and made a list of their data systems, tools, processes, best practices, and reports (spreadsheets) that they use. Then make sure that the documentation for these is accessible as well as reviewed on a regular basis (remember to add it to your end of year process).
I hope that this blog post shows how someone in an organization can do their little part in data governance. Every organization is structured differently. The above journey might fit for a smaller organization. My department is pretty self-contained. Other departments might need more collaboration with other departments in their data governance efforts. I know that I did not really touch all the areas in data governance such as data lineage and reference data. Encourage others in the organization to make data requests such as adding new terms to the business glossary. Remind others to report data quality issues when they see them. Data governance is a team effort. Now, anyone in my organization can find out what tools/systems, processes, best practices, and reports are used by the marketing team. And this documentation will be very helpful in onboarding of new marketing staff. Data governance is now part of my culture. And the journey continues.
Additional resources (videos, blog posts, recorded webinars) on data governance and data intelligence can be found at www.datacookbook.com/dg and or in our "Wealth of Resources on Data Governance and Data Intelligence Topics and Components" blog post and is located at: https://blog.idatainc.com/
IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data intelligence, data stewardship and data quality initiatives. 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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