by Max Gano
In my last post I began sharing how nine principles are guiding a large international organization dedicated to community development, disaster relief and advocacy in successfully governing federated data. That organization is World Vision International. Mark Simpson is the Data Governance Manager there and this is really his story.
With funding for his proposed centralized data governance team on hold a few years ago, Mark clearly needed a new plan. He realized that a number of key technology initiatives remained funded and were moving forward. Mark decided to leverage that momentum.
The first rule of enlisting support from an active project team is to do no harm. Asking a team to slow down or add costs related to vague or seeming irrelevant external requirements is pretty much a non-starter, leading to a polite brush-off like “gosh, we really appreciate how important this is but maybe another time.”
Mark knew, however, that key stakeholders were concerned over a range of data related challenges. He simply began aligning his needs with theirs. The first three of his nine principles help establish that strategic alignment by embedding governance activities directly into projects to avoid adding additional drag to project timelines.
Organize according to system change cycles. The best time to nudge an object in a different direction is when it’s already moving. Introducing incremental improvements when a system is already being updated or modified eliminates the need to justify a separate data governance project. It also allows specific data concerns to be addressed by embedding governance checkpoints into existing system development lifecycles.
Identify clear, actionable requirements. Many times project teams lack either the resources or expertise to address complex data challenges. As an expert, Mark began contributing his time and perspective to translate often times vague requirements into clear specifications that also aligned to emerging policy. He was soon recognized as a valuable asset rather than an unwanted burden. As awareness of the value of this contribution grew, project planning began to include data specific resources and Mark was able to fall back to a coordinating role across multiple projects.
Establish virtual working teams for each system. Few organizations can justify staffing up for a whole new job family of dedicated resources. But the work must be done somehow. Mark began organizing temporary resources into virtual working teams. Project managers are a great place to start. They are often keenly aware of issues that keep coming up project after project. And they are often highly motivated to find ways to avoid those risks in future.
In my next post we will look at three principles that Mark followed to translate embedded governance checkpoints, requirements and virtual working teams into a long-term strategic plan. And yes, it’s true, it may seem like we’re trying to solve world hunger. In this case we really are, so hold onto your hats!