How Often Should You Revisit Your Data Governance Maturity Assessments?

How Often Should You Revisit Your Data Governance Maturity Assessments?

In my experience so many people seriously underestimate the speed at which they’re able to implement data governance – so, when a client asked me how often he should revisit his Data Governance Maturity Assessment I thought ‘that is such a good question, I’m going to write a blog about it’. And here we are.

First things first, what is a ‘Data Governance Maturity Assessment’?

Very simply, your Data Governance Maturity Assessment is a helpful tool I often recommend organisations use to answer questions around what they are aiming for and where they are starting from when implementing a new Data Governance policy.

And, as such, doing, and revisiting, a data governance maturity assessment can really help identify what progress has been made and perhaps areas that need to be focussed on in the next phases. So, I think they are a really, really useful tool – especially as you can expect a new data governance initiative to, in my experience, take the best part of a year (and probably longer – as there’s no end to data governance) to design and implement a Data Governance Framework over at least some part of your data or organisation.

Please be aware that sometimes organisations can get tied up in “analysis paralysis” and spend inordinate amounts of time and effort on completing a maturity assessment. This is not useful, and care should be taken to only go to the level of detail needed to understand what capabilities your company is hoping to attain, plus identifying its current state.

How do I get a Data Governance Maturity Assessment?

There are multiple different maturity assessments available. If a more detailed assessment suits the culture of your organisation better, I recommend you look at the freely available maturity assessment published by Stanford University. Sadly, they recently removed their assessment from their website, but Alex Leigh has created an excel spreadsheet version that you can download from his website.

It is only after you have gone through the analysis outlined above that you will be in a position to estimate how long implementing Data Governance is going to take in your organisation. Now clearly the timescales are going to vary. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to deliver some quick wins during this period, but it will take a reasonable amount of time and effort before your Data Governance Framework starts to deliver value on a regular basis.

So, I have my Maturity Assessment – how often should I look at it?

The timing is going to be important after all you don’t want to be revisiting your Maturity Assessment too often because, actually, nothing will have changed in the passing time and all you will end up doing is bugging people. And, even if you use a very light touch Data Governance assessment tool, you’re still going to be bugging people and asking them for their time. You don’t want to do this unnecessarily.

What I recommend will depend on your circumstances, but definitely no more frequently than six-monthly, because in my experience, not enough will have changed to make it worth the effort of doing that – so I would say six-monthly, or maybe yearly.

I think you need to have a look and understand what’s been moving on in your organisation and whether it’s worth doing it again at this point. But, one thing I would also say is, when you’re looking at the results of a Data Governance Maturity Assessment don’t take all of them to mean that you’ve not accomplished anything.

Sometimes you’ve done the hard work and revisiting a Data Governance Maturity Assessment and asking for new responses is a really good measure of how well you’re communicating.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past – particularly in the early days – I’ve had results back and being devastated because I thought, well, we’ve done that bit already. ‘Why are they saying there’s no data owners in this area as there clearly are?’ And, then when I take the time to take a step back and think about it, I realise that actually… we’ve done the work as a Data Governance team. But what we hadn’t done was communicate it to the wider audience.

And, Data Governance doesn’t work unless everybody’s onboard, you need to make a sustained culture change. You need lots of comms for that. So, Data Governance maturity tools are very useful tools when used correctly, and just don’t do them too frequently.

I hope that was helpful and don’t forget if you have any questions you’d like covered in future videos or blogs please email me –

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