Recently at Sapphire I attended several micro-forums and sessions on data governance and data migration. It was interesting to listen about the problem of data governance and how it is so closely related to the key issues involved with designing new business processes. The issues are similar to what workflow and business process experts face today.
When talking about workflow and process design, several issues always come up for discussion. Three common issues include:
- Ownership – who owns the process? Workflow is a business-focused process that technologists help implement. The workflow itself is driving a business process and completely owned by the business, and will only succeed when there are clear business owners.
- Understanding the results – defining what will be different after the workflow is in production is also critical. Will PO’s get approved faster; will repair response time be reduced? It is important to know what will be different after the workflow is in production.
- User involvement – at the end of the day, the true end user determines the success of the workflow and they will judge the workflow by their experience with the inbox. Users and stakeholder alignment is key to the success of any workflow project.
At Sapphire when discussion data migration and data governance, from issues of ensuring the data can be used to support the business process to ongoing data governance, very similar issues came up during the discussion. (Note: Ina Mutschelknaus did an awesome job of leading some of these sessions and discussions.)
- Define what data governance means at your company – ensuring you have executive sponsorship, having a definition of the real meaning and impact of data on your core processes
- Who owns the data – this can be a big more vague than who owns the process. Owning a process becomes challenging as the process crosses organizational boundaries. For example, approval of purchasing records is owned by someone in the purchasing department, but the moment you put this into the context of procure to pay or involve finance and sales departments, then you need a process owner that crosses organizational boundaries. You get the same issues with data ownership. At a micro forum I asked why the business process owner doesn’t own the data for the data migration. The question posed back to me was ‘who would own the material’; it is used in many processes by various departments. This becomes analogous to the process that crosses organizational boundaries. The core material may be owned by a one data steward, and each plant/sales view owned by others, and then owned at a higher level by a global data steward (so now you need workflow to enforce data governance!).
- Choose a key initiative as a test case- when it comes to data governance, it is important you start with something that can really prove your case. Oftentimes the best place to start is a project around customer data since it impacts so many areas of the business, and oftentimes you only have to look at postage and shipping costs to determine dollar savings with correct customer data.
There are several other issues that are similar between the two, but I am convinced workflow and process experts should align and collaborate closely with the data governance and data steward experts because:
- Both groups understand the importance of getting the right people on board. Without the right organizational and user support, both types of projects will fail.
- Both groups know what it is like to have to ‘prove’ yourselves and the results. Workflow experts and data governance experts know how to start small and build on success.
- Data drives the business process. Workflow folks understand the business process well and how the process flows through the organization, that knowledge can be key to ensuring the data is correctly driving the business process.