CIO.com calls data governance ‘the start of something wonderful’. Something that ‘enhances business engagement … bringing an ever-increasingly disconnected data environment together and providing data value optimization. Conversations on this topic are on the rise, and more and more CIOs today admit that data governance is one of their top priorities for 2019.

Which is why these findings on data governance from a  global CIO survey are somewhat alarming:

  • 19% still do not have executive buy-in for their data governance (DG) program.
  • 36% of CIOs around the world believe that their organization does not fully understand the value of data governance.
  • The biggest DG challenges CIOs cited include ‘Getting people throughout the business to understand that it is their responsibility and that it will be beneficial for them in the longer run’, ‘Changing organisational roles and buy-in’, and ‘People and change’.

The path to setting up a data governance program is clearly far from smooth. In our previous blog post, we delved into the different challenges that CIOs are likely to face while setting up data governance programs. Two of these particularly stand out. (i) Convincing their organizational leadership to invest in a data governance program and (ii) Championing the importance of adhering to the data governance policies by communicating this regularly to the larger organization.

Without tackling the first, there will be no data governance council, no funds allocated to the program, and no program really to speak of. And without the second, all the effort and resources put in to create the data governance policies will come to nothing. Therefore, it is crucial that CIOs are prepared to handle both of these.

Challenge #1: Raising funds for your data governance program

Follow the trail of breadcrumbs

Look around the organization for teams or projects that have suffered a failure as a result of unavailable or unusable data. This could include lack of the right data, delays in procuring the data and data not in a format that is easy to analyze. You might also encounter multiple teams duplicating data collection/analysis efforts, decisions delayed as a result, and so on. Once you find these problem areas, you have the necessary material to build a case for how better data governance can help improve efficiency and functioning.

Set business metrics for data

Your case for data governance becomes stronger the moment it is backed by strong baseline metrics that will help justify the organization’s investment of time, effort and resources into it.

A data governance program can be measured through metrics in many different areas such as:

  • Data quality
  • Reduction in risk events/exceptions
  • Timeliness of data access
  • Operational efficiency improvements
  • Reduction in operational and management costs
  • Compliance with regulations
  • Maturity level on a data governance maturity model/scale

These will help post-program rollout as well, in monitoring the success of the program.

DG Policies

Paint a picture of success

It is natural for the board to have apprehensions about any massive organizational shift—like data governance. To allay these concerns, it is important that as the CIO, you not only present a strong case for the benefits of data governance but also demonstrate how the program can be rolled out with an optimal use of resources and without undue disruption of existing systems.

Challenge #2: Marketing the data governance program internally

Find more champions

The more backing your program gets from the leaders of different teams and functions, the more the word gets out and the more seriously it will be taken. So talk to others in the organization who believe in the value of data governance and who will work with you to promote and implement it. All the members of the data governance council will need to become evangelists of the program and also help identify others like them.

Prepare an elevator pitch

To most employees in the organization, data governance will be a novel concept and it is up to the core team to initiate interesting conversations around it. So it is important to have all the champions of the program speak the same language and share the same message across the organization. A prepared, well-rehearsed elevator pitch for the program is very helpful in this context.

Elevator Pitch DG

Brand the program

Marketing a data governance program is very similar to marketing any newly launched product: you have to build awareness, pique interest and generate a desire to participate. To this end, branding the program with a unique name and perhaps even a logo that appears across organizational portals and communication material can be very helpful.

Communicate proactively

Create communication collateral including articles, brochures or decks to be circulated to the larger team. Conduct regular talks or discussions with different groups to ensure that the message reaches everyone. It is not enough for employees across the board to know about the program but also to associate improved outcomes with the efforts that went into it. So make sure that you publicize small wins and interim milestones achieved.

Data governance is a crucial part of the digital transformation that organizations must go through to adapt to a changing business environment and meet their strategic goals. As CIO Water Cooler puts it, “We can change our technologies, our infrastructure, and our processes. But without addressing the human element, lasting change will not happen.”

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