Is your company investing in data in proportion to investments in other assets? From data analysts to CEOs, everyone gets essential value from the data they use. Read the white paper “Governance from the Ground Up – Launching Your Data Governance Initiative” to find out how the conversation about data is changing. The paper discusses information governance strategy and how you can get initiatives started.
Defining Information Governance
Data enabled initiatives range from risk management to regulatory compliance and beyond – and they all depend on clean, meaningful, available information. The issue is that defining information governance depends on your point of view. For an IT executive it might mean metadata management, while for a business intelligence user it’s about how data is delivered to a dashboard. But no matter where you’re coming from, data must be factored into project plans from the outset.
A Host of Challenges
Many companies have adopted successful information governance initiatives and others have failed. Here are some common causes for breakdowns:
- Failure to take action
- Lack of responsibility for making it work
- Absence of data management capabilities
- Unwillingness to make decisions to drive progress
- Lack of enterprise focus on information governance goals
Many data governance initiatives suffer from a lack of scope and definition. They’re simply too big and amorphous to ever get off the ground. To address this, insightful managers decided to start small, incremental programs. They also recognized the need for someone to “own the data,” leading to the creation of the data steward role. But coming up with a new name and role isn’t enough. To give it teeth, the company needs to:
- Define and formalize the data steward role
- Give the data steward authority to fix data
- Invest in the right tool sets to support real data management
These steps clarify the role for the data steward – and for IT and business colleagues – and show that the company understands the importance of its data and is embracing the concept at the executive level.
Starting an Information Governance Program
As noted above, information governance efforts often are doomed because they are ill defined and not properly scoped. This has led to a “bottom up” approach, where information governance starts with a small, controlled project that is the basis for ongoing activities and roles.
The ideal project should:
- Solve an existing business problem(s)
- Have a clearly defined end state
- Help define delivery processes
- Be data enabled or data intensive
- Receive clear executive backing
- Be delivered in 90 days or less
A small project can establish important new information governance polices and prove that they can be successful. But beyond proving the initiative’s viability, the small project lays the groundwork for repeatable processes that can be scaled up for subsequent projects.
Some information governance activities can be automated and some can’t. Transactional, repeatable tasks lend themselves well to automation. While investing in expensive tools for a single project may not seem sensible, productivity gains and economies of scale become evident with additional initiatives and reduce TCO. In the end, better quality data helps people throughout the organization make smarter business decisions faster.
A Checklist for Success
There’s no single recipe for success, but the following checklist can help your efforts to launch information governance initiatives.
- Define what information governance means for your company
- Design the process
- Choose a key initiative as a test case
- Define simple metrics that can be tracked and used for continuous improvement
- Align stakeholders at the outset
- Document what’s different to illustrate process and data improvements
- Leverage your success
By starting with a small, controlled project, you can scope a finite, data-enabled business problem, formalize roles and processes to solve it, and enable better decision making based on sound, trusted data. To find out more, read the SAP white paper “Governance from the Ground Up – Launching Your Data Governance Initiative.”