The world of data governance can be a lonely one within your own organization. Few understand your mission and many challenge you along the way. As you bang your head against the wall or secretly take another shot from the locked file cabinet drawer, take solace in the fact that there are others in the world out there doing the same. If you knew who they were, you could bang your heads together in sync or at least not drink alone.
That’s us! We are the DGPO, the Data Governance Professionals Organization. We are the ones you have been looking for – the ones who get it. We share your passion for policies, procedures and standards. We share the dream that data can be a valuable enterprise resource. We understand the struggles of business silos staking claim on data as if it was the last cookie in the cookie jar. We sympathize with the headaches of duplication (from data to processes and everything in between) and we feel your pain of justifying the budget for your program (again!). We recognize that we are your people and you are ours.
This is our shared safe zone. A place where we can share best practices learned in the field from those who have been fighting the good fight from the trenches. We are a non-profit, vendor neutral association of business, IT and data professionals dedicated to advancing the discipline of data governance. The DGPO is the primary resource for data governance practitioners. We have members from across the world and a wide variety of industries. Our mission is to foster discussion to encourage, develop and advance the skills of those working in the data governance discipline. Feel free to share your thoughts and additional insights on each of our column posts. As we share practical points from the field, our goal is to learn from each other. A quick read of this column every few months will not only provide bits of insight, but could also reduce the amount of counseling we will all need in retirement. Just think of it as blog-style therapy.
There are five focus areas for which special interest groups of data governance professionals from across industries have developed best practices that we will share in this column. The five areas are: Getting Started, The DG Organization, Processes, Metrics and Communications. As working groups, they continue to meet monthly or quarterly to refine key points and address changes as they arise. It is a difficult task because while there are core components that should exist in every data governance program, no two data governance programs are the same. There is no template for data governance and there is certainly no silver bullet.
The biggest and most common question asked by organizations is “How Do We Start?” In fact, there are many who have started programs only to find them fizzled out months later. The question then becomes “How Do We Start Again?” Launching a data governance program can seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you tried it before and it didn’t quite work out. (You didn’t inhale though, right?). So, it is fitting that here in our first column in the newly revived TDAN (welcome back by the way) we share one of our Getting Started Best Practices – SET PRIORITIES!
To start a solid program and give it teeth that can hold, you must set priorities for data governance within the organization. Setting clear priorities at the outset helps to ensure the data governance program is manageable and sustainable. Establishing a common understanding of the necessity for data governance within the context of the needs of the business will be the driver for long-term success.
While it is tempting (don’t go into the light), data governance priorities cannot be rooted in technology needs. You must align your data governance priorities with key business initiatives and be consistent with the overall business vision. If the key business initiatives are technology-based then you may be successful, but otherwise to gain the executive support needed for success, the priorities must framed in what is important to the organization as a whole.
When defining priorities, be careful not to try and “boil the ocean.” It will be hard not to try and fix everything at once. (We totally understand, especially when you see how much is actually “broken”.) You have to start small and build to gain the momentum and strength needed to sustain an enterprise level program down the road. Decide on an initial focus area and business unit with which you will start. Driving factors for choosing the initial discipline or domain may be compliance or regulatory related, an internal “hot trigger” for the organization, or just simply quick wins and low-hanging fruit. The ideal starting point should be of low-complexity and high impact. Remember, you want a strong win out of the gates.
We will continue to share best practices from the field, but please share some of your “Getting Started” challenges and successes here. Remember, we are a special breed of people sharing a CRAZY passion for data governance – we are all in this together!
DGPO VP Communications