The setting of policy and enforcing of policy form the two halves of information governance. The information governance programs that typically provide the greatest impact to the value of the business go beyond looking at data in and of itself and look at the data in the context of the overall business processes of the organization. These business processes may revolve around data activities, but more typically involve business activities supported by data and are designed to achieve a larger business goal. When using the information governance backbone to drive and enforce business activities, business process governance is created, providing oversight, control and trust to not only the data in the processes but to the outcomes of the processes themselves.
Perhaps it is best to frame the discussion of business process governance with an example of a business process that is both driven by data and is a creator of data at the same time. Take for example the process of new employee onboarding. There are many people in many departments that need to get involved to get an employee on-boarded successfully with each department having a unique set of expertise, skills and systems. From a data perspective, a new employee requires master data, security data, transactional data, reference data, legal data and several other data types to be fully operational within an organization. Each step along the way of this new employee onboarding business process generates data that has to go into systems, is driven by data when going down different branching paths and at its conclusion requires data to be in all of the right systems in the right formats and places in order for the employee to be effective. There are also steps in this process that have nothing to do with a computer system but are required nonetheless.
When I started at my last company, my first week was spent filling out access request forms, getting assigned a desk, being given access to various systems and filling out several types of paperwork. Each form I completed, system I logged into and step I took in the process generated data that needed to be accurate, complete, timely and adhere to the policies set for that data. Even the parts of the process where I was given a phone, desk and computer resulted in entries in a system that said this desk, this phone and this computer belong to employee 8675309. Because all steps in the process generate and are driven by data, the process itself can be governed based on the policies set on that data and the enforcement of those policies to ensure not only is the data correct, but also is the business process executing to the expected levels of quality, timeliness, completion, accuracy and other qualities typically associated with information governance.
A New Perspective Provided By Information Governance
The governance of business processes based on data can give a new perspective to the type of tuning, analysis and efficiencies that can be driven into these processes. By analyzing processes at the data level, the data can be allowed to speak for itself giving insights into how efficiently and accurately the processes are executing. To take a simple example, when analyzing the employee onboarding process it is found that employees that work for a certain department are entering an usually high number of access request forms several weeks after they start with the company, perhaps there are steps missing in the initial onboarding business process that are not taking into account employees within a given department. This information, combined with clarity into the business process as it is executing today, allows for a data-first approach to identify patterns, roadblocks and inefficiencies in the business process.
Increasing the business value of data can be measured in many ways. To some people it is cost savings from less time spent fixing poor data quality issues and to others it is the insights that can be driven from business intelligence and analytical analysis of data. For some, it is smooth running transactional systems where high quality data runs smoothly in those environments. I submit that the tuning, monitoring and enforcement of business processes by taking a data-driven business process governance approach can provide one of the most powerful tools to maximize the business value not only data, but an organization as a whole.
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