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Welcome to the Dear Laura blog series! As I’ve been working to challenge the status quo on Data Governance, I get a lot of questions about how it will “really” work. I’ll be sharing these questions and answers via this DATAVERSITY® series. Last year I wrote the book Disrupting Data Governance because I firmly believe that poor Data Governance (DG) programs are getting in the way of data programs being as successful as possible.
Read the previous blog in this series here.
I know Data Governance is critical, but how do I convince my executives? I’m new to my role, and Data Governance has been tried here — a few times — and each time, it failed, miserably. I can understand why, too much promised, not enough time, money, or people. Trouble is, how do I make the case for something new when it’s still “Data Governance” and there’s a long institutional memory?
Frustrated in Fresno”
You are not alone. I get this question all the time! I’ve also been frustrated trying to get support for “Data Governance,” but here’s the thing — not all Data Governance is created equal. Whether you like the approach I wrote about in “Disrupting Data Governance” (shameless plug) or other methods, the point is, Fresno, you are right. You will need some Data Governance.
Managing up is a real thing, and that’s what you will have to do to get some traction. There are a few ways to get this done. The first way that I recommend is to start small, like really small. Something that you know you can achieve to get some practice, but also get some credit. Maybe define a common term (but don’t take months to do it!) or gain support from a few key enthusiastic (i.e., loud) stakeholders. Tackle something and chalk it up to Data Governance. BTW do not pick tool acquisition (or metadata)! Those are both projects that take a lot of time and/or money and rarely show value quickly. You’ll be behind before you begin.
Another way to get started is to do what I used to do with my son when he was a baby and hide the yucky stuff under something exciting (cauliflower in macaroni and cheese as an example). Tag Data Governance into another project that everyone wants. Don’t call it DG; just call it “project work” and deliver. Then say, “Yeah, that thing we did; it was actually Data Governance. Surprise!” The most effective way to get Data Governance rolling so that it is sustainable is to have a hybrid approach, top-down/bottom-up. You will need both. Of course, executives will be critical to your success, but so will the people that will be doing the work and cheerleading you on.
Here’s the thing — regardless of how you do it, show value that is defined by the business. Manage up, bring people with you, and show value, even a small amount, as quickly as you can. To deliver quickly, consider agile methods. Break down the problem into small tasks. I like the agile mantra: “Think big, start small, act fast.” Data Governance is a “Think Big” effort for any organization. But as the old saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” and Data Governance is, after all, a journey! Good luck, Fresno. Let us know how it goes.
Do you have a question you would like me to answer? Email me at Laura at viagurus dot com.