Data Governance Implementation

A prioritised phased approach to introducing change and enabling good data governance.

In parts 1 and 2 of our Data Governance series, we looked at why you need to develop a data governance framework and how it should operate. In this blog, we reveal how to activate positive change within your organisation to improve data governance.


A Phased Approach

Prioritise your data governance needs, and be practical.

Implementing changes to the way you manage data in your organisation involves many stakeholders, and the process needs to be monitored and possibly adjusted throughout. It takes time and resources.

This is why you should plan a phased roll-out of your data governance. Trying to roll it out in one Big Bang approach generally doesn’t work.

Start with the area and data of highest priority. It might be an area where you have critical data that has quality concerns, or where repeated errors have been recorded.

Identify where improved data governance will mean better business performances immediately, and more satisfied employees and customers through improved data.

Another way, is to look for other initiatives in your organisation that also have a data focus, and see if you can piggyback off those. It can be easier to get people involved in a practical way, rather than just assigning them added responsibilities for data governance as a ‘business as usual’ activity. When there is a practical project happening, and they can start building into that role of responsibility, their adaptation will feel reasonable and will make sense to them.

For example, if you are implementing a new finance system, you might decide, let’s implement data governance in the Finance area first. With such a project, the decisions that need to be made around the data and any data migration present a good avenue to get the Data Owner and Data Stewards involved, in a practical way.

We realise that there won’t always be a project happening to latch onto. It’s not crucial to your success but, wherever practical, align with other activities that are already going on.

Focus On People

Identify your responsible data governance leaders.

While data governance includes technical artifacts, the premise of any implementation is around the people.

For data governance, you assign people to certain roles.

Data Owners and Data Stewards are key people within the business who will be responsible for the data. They are also responsible for implementing the governance framework and the policies, procedures and standards that come with it.

You need to educate people about data governance and the fact that the data is a business responsibility, not an IT responsibility. Inform people about what data governance is, why they need to do it, and what are the benefits, not just to the organisation but to them personally. People will be motivated to know, “what do I get out of it?”

Explain to the Data Owner what that means for them. The benefits and their accountabilities.

Similarly for your Data Stewards – the subject matter experts, the people who are using and managing the data day-to-day, and supporting the users of the data. They will want to know what it means for them including what parts of data governance they need to learn, and what training they will need.

Data Owners and Stewards don’t have to be data management experts, but they need a sound level of understanding and an appreciation of data governance.

The realisation of their responsibilities and possibilities should be a positive experience for Data Owners and Data Stewards. Incorporate these people into the planning process, and provide expert support during the implementation process. Ensure they feel empowered and ready to implement data governance.

Support Your People

Engage data governance experts.

Data Owners and Data Stewards are the people within your business who will carry data governance forward. Because they are not data governance experts, however, they need to be supported by a function or a person who is the expert.

Many organisations now have their own experts. This might be a Data Governance Officer, Information Manager, or Data Manager. Usually, they report into a Chief Information Officer, Chief Data Officer or Head of Data and Analytics.

Other organisations engage external experts such as Data Agility consultants.

In addition to being skilled in data governance, these experts are clear communicators actively engaged across the business to drive the change.

Expertise in the data itself is with the Data Owners and Data Stewards. Expertise in change management and data governance is the role of your support expert.

Facilitate Positive Change

Launch communications and a broad marketing campaign.

Data governance implementation includes considered change management and an effective internal marketing campaign. It involves selling a new perspective to your business, as well as the implementation of new processes and procedures.

Typically, we structure it so that there is targeted awareness and training for people with defined roles who are heavily impacted – the Data Owners, Data Stewards and other users identified as central to the implementation in the first instance.

At the same time, remembering that we take a phased approach and not everyone will be impacted right away, we launch a broader communications program. The idea is to start to educate everyone about data governance, so they understand why it is being implemented and have good awareness and are ready when their time comes for the implementation.

A broad marketing campaign is also valuable where cultural change is required Ie. when you need people to change the way they think about their data. When you want every person to value the organisation’s data, and the business to place more importance on data, it is vital that everyone receives the same messaging.

These actions might be driven by the data governance expert, but will be supported by an organisation’s Communications and/or Learning and Development teams.

Measure Your Success

Achieve business benefits.

Data governance implementation is the execution of a plan.

It is acknowledging the collection of policies, frameworks, procedures, people and culture that ensure the effective, efficient and reliable use of data to support your organisation achieve its objectives and vision, and putting them to use.

In measuring the effectiveness of your implementation, you will need to determine metrics of business improvements. You will also need to reflect on how data governance is helping your organisation achieve its vision and uphold its principles.

Overall, you need to measure the impacts and benefits to your organisation. Determine if benefits are being gained. If not, find another way.

When you define something in a development phase, you do what you think will work. If you find that it doesn’t quite work, you alter or adjust. Out of the measurement, and through the process of implementation, you are constantly refining.

Often in measuring the progress and effectiveness of your implementation, you will discover unexpected business benefits. For example, your aim might be to improve your data quality or data input. You recognise that this will instill confidence in and reliability of your data to make business decisions in a timely manner. To achieve this, you do away with some manual data handling processes that had an inherent high risk of error. In doing so, daily administration is less time-consuming and staff are less likely to make errors. The unexpected business benefit is a more confident and enthusiastic workforce, and high staff retention.

Measurement helps you recognise the value of data governance.

Next Steps

Will your organisation benefit from data governance expertise?

This is the final blog in our three-part series on data governance.

As you have read, data governance implementation is a people-centric activity that needs to be embraced across a whole organisation and supported by experts of data governance. It stems from a well-planned structure, takes time, and ultimately helps you to achieve business benefits.

We look forward to launching our Data Governance eBook in early 2022.

Meanwhile, if you would like assistance implementing data governance in your organisation, speak to one of our data governance experts today.


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