Data Governance

Common mistakes in data governance implementation and how to avoid them

Congratulations, you have just defined your new data management roles and responsibilities in a governance concept. Before you start implementing your concept, take a step back and consider the following three questions. If your answers are lacking for even one question, take the time to improve your concept. Once you have good answers to all three of these questions, then you can confidently begin implementation. 

1. What is the business value in this?

Have you ever attended a data governance presentation in which the presenter immediately jumped to the new roles and their responsibilities? Have you been able to observe the facial expressions of the other participants? If so, you probably encountered questions such as “Why do we have to do this” or “What is the business value”. Your implementation is doomed to fail before you start unless you have a good story to tell about why your firm needs to implement data governance and a clear explanation of the business value of the new roles and responsibilities.

It may be helpful to consider your justification for the change in the following way: 

  • Start with describing the current challenges in data management, including how they impact customer satisfaction, process efficiency and other key business KPIs.
  • Then explain how good data governance will solve the problems.
  • Once you have laid this groundwork, then your audience is ready to absorb information about the new governance roles and responsibilities.

2. Is there no simpler approach?

Recently, I saw a presentation that proposed 12 new governance roles and boards. Any experienced manager will immediately spot that such an approach will require substantial organisational change. From that point on, you will have to fight an uphill battle to convince your manager that there is no easier approach. My experience is that you don’t need to reinvent the business to implement data governance. Rather than designing fancy new roles, it makes sense to identify the existing roles and alignment boards that already deal with similar topics. Improve these existing structures instead of creating new ones. Start small and gain traction instead of creating something so complicated that it never even gets started.

​3. What does it mean for me?

I am convinced that 90% of a successful governance implementation is communication. By the way, sending out the data governance concept by e-mail is not what I mean by communication. Instead, think about the stakeholders you need to speak with, visit them in person and explain the new roles and responsibilities. You will probably have to do this several times. Especially in the first meeting, pay close attention to their questions, as these will give you an indication of what is still missing in your concept or storyline. Furthermore, make it concrete by working through an example that shows how the roles work together in practice.

Do you have good answers to the above three questions?

If so, get started.

If you need help getting the answers right or want an experienced review of your concept, please get in touch with Hannes Schmidt.

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