Monday, February 22, 2010

When You’re Not Ready for Data Governance

Gwen Thomas recently published a good post in her blog Data Governance Matters, entitled When You’re Not Ready for Data Governance, where she lists some conditions that need to be in place for a Data Governance program to be successful in delivering value and the signs that you're not ready:

1. A driving reason for Data Governance, supported by high-level sponsors.
Is there concensus about what needs to change, and why, and what will happen if it doesn’t? Are high-level stakeholders supporting the changes that will come with governance?

A sign you’re not ready: key stakeholders say they don’t see a need for Data Governance, and there’s no executive mandate to “trump” their opinion.

2. Political will.
The activities of data governance - setting standards, enforcing them, and resolving issues - are only needed because conflicts and disputes exist. What will happen if key data stakeholders insist that THEY don’t have to adhere to rules? What if they reject the rulings of roundtables, councils, or boards? Before you get to that situation, your Data Governance Sponsor should decide how they would react to stakeholders who reject being governed.

A sign you’re not ready: key stakeholders are not getting what they need from data, but they state they would not be willing to vote against a dissenter in a council meeting. Another sign: mid-level participants state they would not be willing to champion a standard unless their business sponsors provided “political cover” for them.

3. A commitment for participation.
Is there a commitment for time and support by those who will be triaging requests for support, setting standards, and resolving issues?

A sign you’re not ready: those whose attendance will be required at rule-making sessions are routinely double-booked or triple-booked, and cannot commit to being in attendance at required sessions.

4. Project Management/Documentation/Communication.
Someone has to “herd the cats,” facilitate sessions, create documents that summarize issues, draft rules and standards, and meet with stakeholders to mine their knowledge and address their concerns. Without this level of support, you’re likely to have a series of non-productive meetings.

A sign you’re not ready: You can’t get a commitment for enough hours from the right resource; instead, you might be assigned resources who can’t write well, aren’t strong faciliators/mediators, don’t understand the politics associated with data decisions, or are not regarded by participants as as politically-neutral, trusted brokers of information.

5. Knowledgeable data analysis.
Someone has to bring knowledge to governance sessions - knowledge about where data is, how it is actually used, undocumented but followed rules, and points of contact within the organization for understanding protocols, policies, and historical decisions.

A sign you’re not ready: If you can only assign a new hire to this role. Why? New resources (rather than seasoned veterans) are rarely successful in this role; even if they understand their discipline very well, they probably are lacking in tribal knowledge or even where to obtain it.

She finishes with: "An important part of configuring a program is being honest with yourself about your organization’s readiness. Just because something is the right thing to do doesn’t mean that RIGHT NOW is the time to do it."

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