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Creating a data culture in your company: What you should know about Information Governance you learned in pre-school

Blog of an ASUG webcast by Maria Villar, SAP

Information Management is a hot arena to be in. 15 years ago, it used to be around large re-engineering programs, which missed their mark by not having a proactive information governance program. However, now the sheer amount of information is growing exponentially, including a lot of growth in unstructured data. We need change to be able to keep up! (For specific stats, see the Information Governance Infographic)

The challenge remains in finding the talent to staff the hot positions of CIOs, Chief Data Officers, and chief data stewards. Because of this, you need to change the culture of information management. Centralizing into one core data team is not scalable enough for your company. More people will have to support the information initiatives.

First, your organizational culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that interacts with a company’s people, organizational structure, and control systems to produce behavioral norms. The culture is displayed by artifacts, assumptions, non-verbal messages and communication exchanges, and finally actions—not just words.

What does a data culture look like?


Maria recommends quantifying this culture, so you’ll know when you achieve that goal.

Establishing a vision

So, how do you do it? First, you need an easy to understand vision.

  • More integrated and consistent master data
  • Of higher quality
  • That is easy to access, view, search, add, delete, and change;
  • Providing execution, analytics and diagnostics insights to drive core process efficiencies and effectiveness
  • With proper governance, accountability, authority, and funding
  • Creating better customer and employee experiences
  • And is a showcase for SAP

This requires building new capabilities (organization, processes, and tools) and must be measured via metrics.

Defining capabilities

Then, walk down how you’re going to achieve these new capabilities.


You’ll always have on-going back-office capabilities, but you need to make sure that you have automated, owned processes for making sure that new data conforms to policies. SAP does, of course, showcase SAP products.

With this system, quite a lot of change management is required.

Establishing forums

Information management affects all employees that touch data. It is not mundane, back-office work.

  • Enterprise Council: Business and IT executives weigh in on yearly projects, priorities, and issue resolution. Tailor the message in business terms for this group.
  • Cross-LoB Operational Data Council: Where most of the work gets done. Master Data Leaders, IT, Global Data Management. Changing data standards, processes, tracking data quality, etc.
  • Local Forums: IT, Business Subject Matter Experts, all employees. Have a voice and feel like they can contribute to that data culture.

Do not skimp here. It requires staff. Also, work with your marketing program to develop an internal PR program to help you grow. Keep in mind that believability is AS IMPORTANT as the work being done. If you have $100, don’t spend $100 all on action. Spend $80 on action, and $20 on communicating the results in compelling ways.

Establishing metrics

Of course, it’s hard to find the one number that will sing and is absolutely right. Don’t’ use that as an excuse to not gather any key metrics.

  • Enterprise: Program business benefits and ROI, one data quality number, one maturity assessment number, industry and company awards
  • Domain (more traditional): master data KPI and benefits, maturity assessment, data stewards, domain process CRUD
  • Department/Function: data quality per region, country, or function, business process metrics, team awards and recognition

Creating lasting change

You MUST make it easy and automated for as many areas as possible.


So why is this hard? Processes were not designed for effective data management, and business owners are unaware of data management responsibilities. Our job is teaching them how to do that. One of the most difficult challenges is communicating to everyone who handles information that they have a role to play—it is not all someone else’s job.

Also, technology solutions must be integrated and managed via change.

Training the organization

You learned these tips in preschool. Use them to inform your organization, with a metaphor to help make it stick.

  1. Keep your favorite toys in a safe place and make sure they are well taken care of. So is the case with Data Management:
  • Know your critical information (toys)
  • Identify trusted sources (safe place)
  • Maintain the quality of the trusted source (take care of it)
  • Identify accountable owners (care taker)

2.      Respect your elders, and understand that there are consequences. So is the case with Data Management:

  • Hire data leaders: CDOs and data stewards
  • Have an executive sponsor (The highest elder)
  • Establish a governance body (extended family of elders)
  • Hire subject matter experts (teachers)
  • Consider consequences and rewards

3.      Share your toys and play fair. So is the case with Data Management:

  • Critical, shared data is a organization wide asset; therefore, functions and departments that create and update this information have to be mindful of the quality needs of other functions and department
  • Play fair by following the rules

4.      Follow directions. So is the case with Data Management:

  • Establish policies, standards, and processes for creating, updating, and deleting, storing and using critical information (directions)
  • Make them easy to follow (Mapquest/Google)
  • Automate where possible (cruise control)
  • Provide oversight to ensure compliance (police officers)
  • Reward those that do (report card)

5.      Clean up your own mess. So is the case with Data Management:

  • Data decays (contact data decays at 70% a year)
  • Get rid of old data
  • Have an ongoing maintenance program to keep critical data current
  • Reward those that do (report card)

6.      Watch out for traffic, hold hands before crossing, and stick together. So is the case with Data Management:

  • Stay current on the business needs and adapt governance program (watch out for traffic)
  • Establish an oversight program and staff accordingly
  • Information governance is a team sport where business and IT need to play together.

SAP uses SAP


Thank you, Maria for this great webcast on creating a vibrant information governance culture. Maria’s contact information is

Related blogs on SAP’s Data Governance program:

Information Governance Maturity Models: Quick and Easy

Using the Program Management Office to help your initiative

OneSAP for Data Quality

Information Governance Tips + Tricks from a Practitioner

Creating a data culture in your company: What you should know about Information Governance you learned in pre-school

Walking the Walk: SAP and Information Governance

Information Steward 4.2 in Practice: How SAP’s Data Management Organization Uses Information Steward

SAP’s Internal Information Governance Program: Business Value Metrics Framework

Avoiding data corruption during mergers and acquisitions: A story from SAP’s Data Governance Organization

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