Why does my company need Data Governance?

If you plan to implement data governance in your organisation, it’s really important to understand why you are doing it. This can often be a long and thankless process, and some might argue it’s not for the faint hearted, so understanding ‘why’ is crucial in order to get the most out of your data governance journey.

Now usually in these blogs, I address a ‘frequently asked question’, but actually this one isn’t, and I wish it was asked much more often. In fact, I think it is so important that you’re able to answer this question that it is the very first item on the free data governance checklist that you can download from my website.

If you don’t know ‘why’, it can be easy to get side-tracked and distracted. The ‘why’ is what will guide you in your journey and ensure your organisation is getting what it needs from your data governance initiative.

I’ve seen people make the mistake of spouting things like, ‘oh we’re doing it because it’s best practice’ or ‘we work in a regulated industry and it’s required’, but if you do it for that reason, you’re likely only to do the bare minimum to tick the boxes required by your regulator and you are going to miss out on most of the benefits that are to be had from implementing Data Governance.

People will often spout generic benefits like ‘oh there will be efficiencies’ or ‘there will be better opportunities if we do data governance’, but they can’t explain why when challenged and the consequence of this is that when you’re meeting your stakeholders at the start of a data governance initiative – particularly your senior ones –  they want to be able to know ‘what’s in it for me’ and if you can’t answer that in a way that they really are interested in and benefits them, they’re just not going to be interested.

All this means you are going to really struggle to get stakeholders to buy into your data governance initiative and ultimately that means that you’re not going to get the support you need for it or the funding and everything you’ve done to date is just going to be wasted effort.

So, what do you do then? This is slightly more complex because the answer will depend on your organisation’s specific circumstances. Each and every organisation is different and why your company is doing data governance will be different from another and probably even different from your closest competitors. This means there is not one standard approach that I can give you a list of that will work for everybody, but what I can do is tell you how to work it out for yourself.

There are three things you need do to figure out your ‘why’. The first is look at your corporate strategy. Look at the objectives that are listed in there and work out if your data is currently well understood and good enough quality to help deliver those objectives. If the answer is no, then you’ve got a really good way of explaining why data governance is needed to help you achieve your corporate strategy.

The second thing I would do is look at your data strategy, if you have one, and if you do I hope that there are already some sections about data governance in there. If there isn’t then you need to work with the person who owns the data strategy and work out what activities in there are they planning with the data and why you need data governance to support those activities.

And then finally, I would go and search for your data quality horror stories. These are instances where things have gone wrong because either data is missing, or you’ve got poor quality data and things have gone wrong as a result.

If you gather together all that information you can then do some analysis to identify the drivers for data governance in your organisation. With that information in hand, you’ll be able to talk to anybody, whether they are senior stakeholders or the business users down at the coal face and you’re going to be able to articulate what the benefits of data governance are going to be to them and why their organisation needs it – and that is going to make you be so much more successful in your data governance initiative.

Don’t forget if you have any questions you’d like covered in future videos or blogs please email me – [email protected].

Originally published on https://www.nicolaaskham.com/

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