A TDWI survey found that 66% of executives said their data governance programs were not ready for the challenges of the 2020s. Data governance, or the sum total of an organization’s processes, roles, policies, standards, and metrics that result in the effective and efficient use of information, isn’t the sexiest of topics. It is, however, one of the more important things to get right for any business to not just avoid the pitfalls that come with poor governance, but to meet operational and financial goals and succeed in the long term.
Governance is an opportunity for more convenience within an organization, not an annoying obstacle. If handled correctly, it can accelerate business opportunities and empower data constituents. It’s time to focus on the positives that data governance will deliver. Here are a few things to think about when getting started.
Start with a strong foundation
Not establishing a foundation for your data governance initiative is a mistake. That includes a well-defined charter with items such as KPIs, team responsibilities and executive sponsorship. Too often, companies think that buying a “tool” will solve their problems, as it’s much easier than thinking through what it will take to be successful strategically. In fact, only 26% of organizations listed data governance investment as a top priority in 2021, while tools and applications were the top priority for nearly 40% of enterprises.
Software plays a critical role but keeping the end in mind gives a much clearer expectation of what can be achieved with tooling and helps inform those decisions. In other words, not doing this would be like building a house on a poor foundation. All the expensive power tools in the world won’t solve the root problem and, eventually, all that investment in time and money will be lost.
A top-down approach and organization-wide collaboration drive success
Undertaking a data governance strategy in the right way will help avoid a lot of issues. Without careful planning, a program can lose momentum, funding, and faith in data governance’s ability to improve a business. Digital data governance should be a part of all corporate planning and decision-making. Too often, it has been an afterthought or treated as a one-time initiative. For a program to succeed, it’s necessary to create a culture of collaboration and communication among all parts of the enterprise. This should come from leadership.
The CEO and other executive leaders should prioritize getting the right team of data professionals and people with various roles from across the enterprise to drive the initiative. This includes C-level executives as well as line-of-business business leaders. Get buy-in on the charter and commitment of resources prior to starting, especially from those that will be critical in delivering a successful result. Everyone has a role to play in creating the right data strategy, and enlisting help from across departments makes sure everyone feels like they have a stake in the program’s success.
“Governance” is often seen as something that is controlling, slow and limiting. The reality is that a properly planned and executed data governance initiative will get different departments collaborating and building interpersonal relationships as they drive strategy that will improve the business’ resiliency and agility. The end result is a more cohesive organization from a personal and data perspective that’s able to deliver better business outcomes.
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