The complete and total management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of data in an enterprise is called Data Governance. However, not all data governance efforts yield positive results.
Like many things, there are hurdles that prevent the success of data governance efforts. These can be political, cultural, or organizational in nature. To succeed in data governance, changes which may sometimes be drastic, are required in order to slowly change, transform, and eventually mature the process. The resistance to the changes required may hamper the success of the planned initiatives.
Here are some tips on how to drive successful data governance:
- Find an Executive sponsor
As mentioned earlier, for data governance efforts to succeed significant changes in culture and behavior are demanded. There is also a need for technology funding that will greatly aid the efficient management of data. Without the support from someone in the executive team, all efforts toward data governance are very likely to fail.
Ensure that there is buy-in from those who have strong influence in the decision making. Having people in the executive team onboard will provide the foundation needed to have a higher success rate.
- Define owners or custodians of the data assets
One of the most important steps in data governance involves defining the owners or custodians of data assets. The best way to do this is to find a team composed of subject matter experts in different business areas. This is to make sure there is effective control and use of the data.
Whether or not a new job role has to be made will depend on the culture and politics of the organization. What matters most is that the responsibilities of being an owner or custodian are well defined. It has to include duties to ensure data will always be accurate, accessible, complete, and updated. It is also vital that these people are afforded enough time to attend to their tasks.
- Develop a set of standards and procedures
Aside from just defining who the stewards of data should be, it is also important to develop a set of standards and procedures to define how the data is to be used. There must be processes in place to determine the ways by which data is to be stored, archived, backed up, and secured.
It is also important to define how the data is to be relevant for use, who the data will be for, and who will have access to it. Just the same, there must be a system for audits to ensure continuous government compliance.
- Establish and report on Metrics
There are two things that are to be looked at when looking at how we want data governance to progress – first, we need to determine the quick wins and second, the long term improvements in mind. These two must be determined prior to the start of the project.
Both are important in the sense that quick wins are good to immediately see the contributions of the efforts in order to encourage people to continue to engage as well as gain more support as improvements become more tangible. At the same it is necessary to focus on metrics that assess and support the long term, overall objectives of the project.
A good way to do this is to have a KPI dashboard that will have data about data management costs before, during, and after the project, and the number of decisions made on the basis of relevant data available among others.
- Incentive and reward system
One of the critical measures of success in data governance is its sustainability. It can be challenging to maintain adequate participation especially when the people who are defined as owners or custodians are busy with other responsibilities. The business ‘commitments and priorities can also greatly affect the sustainability of data governance.
Having an incentive and reward system can certainly help keep people engaged. Incentives and rewards should not only be limited to monetary compensation. It is also good to put in place recognitions for those who engage and contribute to data governance in order to keep people excited and motivated.
Financial Data Governance
The finance department is one of the many departments in an organization that deeply needs good data governance. The finance department through the CFO and finance managers make decisions that directly affect the operations, investments, and the general direction of the company in the coming weeks, months or years.
It is therefore very important that this department invest significant time and money to improve how it handles data. Today, many finance departments still manually track and monitor expenses via Excel. This works but not for a long time as this tends to become cumbersome as the company grows wasting precious time of the finance personnel. People in the finance department will now spend more time fixing errors and broken macros or sending file back and forth than actually analyzing data in order to make prompt decisions.
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