Some stuff we did in 2013.

We’re making major progress! Not to say we don’t still have a gazillion things we want to do but our Data Governance community is awesome and delivered a lot of value to our organization this year. Which is why I’ve been so absent on this blog. It’s been verrry busy!!! Anyway I thought I would share what we did with you.

Issue resolution:

  • 59 root cause Issues logged, prioritized and ownership established
  • 12 root cause issues resolved. (coming soon I hope to be able to share the benefits we are measuring)
  • The resolution of 6729 priority Data Quality issues – I know right?
  • 10 business problems solved at our Steward Drop In Clinic

Next up: expanding our Issue tracker from tracking issues for the Company domain to include multiple data domains.

Change management:

  • 3 Community barometers undertaken with all resulting recommendations completed
  • Training to over 450 stakeholders
  • 10 Data Champions Recognized under a new recognition program
  • Successful transitions of 6 stewards and 1 owner and the addition of 3 new business stewards

Next up: continuing with the barometer, on-going training and communications.

Enterprise Alignment:

  • 1 new Enterprise process for handling Company mergers
  • 2 new Enterprise data Standards (for Company Name and Company Headquarter Address)
  • Process and responsibilities for managing changes or inputs to all enterprise metadata.

Next up: Enterprise business needs for record retention, Company hierarchy and Company life cycle definition.

Governance Organization Framework:

  • Provided support to Company and Market Information domains.
  • 8 Best practices, templates and tools for re-use
  • 2 new processes established for Business Steward and Data Owner transitions
  • 9 Standard Operating Procedures developed for: Business Stewards, Data Owners, Business leads, the DG Office, IT Stewards, Data Stewards, Steward Leaders, Business users and Sponsors.
  • A brand new Data Steward (and Back up) Role.
  • Development and roll out of a Roles and Responsibilities framework for projects, the DG Office and Data Management support.

Next up: expand the roles and responsibilities framework to include other Information Management stakeholders within the organization and establish standard on-boarding training for stewards and data owners.

2014 should be lots of fun 🙂


Deliberate data design and those pesky system constraints.

Is one of the success factors for good data governance due to the alignment of people and process before the technology? Don’t we have to get everyone pretty much on the same page on how we’re going to handle our data before we start talking about systems constraints? If we start to talk technology before the business get their ducks all in a row, won’t we go down the slippery slope of technology starting to drive the solutions vs. the all important business need? Won’t we all look silly if we aren’t even on the same page? 

I’m asking this because we’re at the point where we’ve got some high level processes drafted up, and we’re getting close to alignment. We’ve designed the processes based on the aligned business needs which is a guiding principle that I recommend be a driver for all data initiatives. And now that we’re getting close, but before we’ve got it nailed, the technology constraint talk is starting to creep in. Yikes! I’ve been there before. When you start to talk about ‘the system’ before the process is nailed it doesn’t go quite as planned. It didn’t work the first time and here we are again, only this time we have an opportunity to do things the right way. 

Of course once we get everyone on the same page we’ll have to figure out how we’ll implement the agreed upon process alignment taking into account our technology, resource and scheduling constraints. But isn’t that just um…normal common sense? And something we should do together? Once we’re all talking about the same thing? 

I would really like your thoughts. 

Thank you

Stuff Happens.

It’s been a while I know. Stuff happens. Some of the stuff may be Data Governance related. And that’s where I’m at. Life is good again. Yeehawww!

Getting Data Governance started, whatever that may look like is a pretty big deal. At least I think it’s big. Huge in fact. It’s like the earth shifted on its axis and all of a sudden things that I’ve been ranting about start to get a bit of attention. All I can say is I’m pretty happy to be part of it and can’t wait for whatever comes next.

What it’s starting to look like is still being shaped but it mostly comes down to organizational alignment, changing behaviors, communicating the value, making data a priority. What might be different is how you go about getting some of these things accomplished. It depends on the culture, the people, what kinds of roles you have in place and what is the business problem you’re trying to solve. If you can take all that into account you’re halfway there.

Getting the attention of the powers that be is also pretty important. I can’t tell you what worked for us as we’re still trying to figure it all out, but here are some of the things that have been key success factors:

  1. Cross functional or organizational Senior Management direction and support. When you only have some senior level support you’ll only get so far.
  2. A strong core (awesome super duper brilliant crazy fun smart) team who has credibility and influence. You need to get out there, get people engaged and constantly spread the word, communicate, get participation and get support and buy-in. You know, do the team Data Quality rant 😉
  3. A very very very very very clear and concise scope that everyone agrees to and is supported by Senior Management (see item #1). This can sometimes be your biggest challenge as everyone has a different perspective on what Data Governance can be and it can be pretty big (exhausting, draining, mind numbing, relationship busting, etc etc etc) if you let it. Was I too subtle there? Start with something do-able that can be achieved, get Senior support and show value.
  4. A business problem that needs to be solved. This could be the one thing that drives everything you do. If you need resources and budget you’ll be standing in line with all the other business priorities unless you are solving a problem. A big problem is even better. For some, even though we all know that good data enables business (not just the technology), it might be a really big project that needs some good data. That’s as good a place to start as any. After how many years…whatever works I say :D.
  5. Communicate often. Whatever your communication vehicle is, unless it’s a loudspeaker pumped throughout the organization like they did in school many people are just too busy with their own priorities to take time to digest your message. So keep at it!
  6. Focus on where you want to be rather than how it currently works. If you keep going back to “yes but in this system the data works this way” you’ll end up in Alice’s rabbit hole and you won’t get out without bloodshed. Ok no, we didn’t have any bloodshed but the ‘current state’ vs ‘future state’ or ‘where we want to be’ discussions created some real challenges.

What we’ve accomplished is we’ve got agreement on some of our data that is important for the organization. Everyone participated in the development of the definitions, the business need and the leader accountable for the integrity, and we’re just settling into getting some structures in place for decisions and changes and figuring out how we’re going to sustain that.

OMG. That’s all I can say.

You need to master more than just data.

Organizations, leaders, groups, units, business models, priorities and pretty much everything around you is in a constant state of change. How do you manage to stay on top of things and continue to play a role is helping to shape what the change looks like? Do you think that if you keep your head down and soldier on that you will have any influence on the shape or structure of the new group, leader or business model? Perhaps. But not much, or not where it really counts. You need to speak up, sell yourself, play a role and help shape the next iteration if you will. You have the skills that are needed, you wouldn’t be here otherwise. So what makes you so special? What do you have that will help the NEW (whatever) succeed? How can YOU have any influence on what the next iteration looks like? How can YOU master your destiny?

It’s pretty simple. You need to package and sell your rockstarness. (Okay rockstarness is not really a word but it gets the message across and we love making up new terms). You need to let the people who are accountable for shaping the change know that you have some of the right stuff needed to make this happen and that by including you they will have increased their chances for success! Heck, I’m sure you have a business case already in your head. You see the change beginning to happen and you say to yourself:” I could help with this”, or “I know how to make this work”, or even “I can bring these people together to help make this work”. You might even be losing sleep or feeling some stress because you feel so strongly about your ideas for shaping the new change and are frustrated that you are unable to help.

Package Yourself

Write down the stuff that’s in your head. Package it up. One page should do. Send it to some colleagues or mentors and ask for their feedback. Incorporate their feedback. Make it sing. It’s you in one page. Keep it simple and strategic (if you can). Use common language (please) as the potential for You in One Page to be circulated is there and you want it to resonate with anyone who comes across it. You are now prepared!

Now Sell the Package

Request to meet with the influential leaders who are accountable for the change. Let them know you have some skills that can help them and ask for a brief period of their time to discuss the value you hope to bring to the change. I guarantee they will accept your invite and be very happy to talk with you. After all, they have been tasked with this change and will everything they can to ensure its success. If you can help then all the better for them. And you!

Master your destiny!

No one else is responsible for selling you except for you. Take responsibility for shaping that destiny. If the leaders include you in the change then great! If not, then it’s probably not because of anything you didn’t do. It may be out of their hands due to other factors such as politics, culture or organizational readiness. Whatever the outcome, at the very least you won’t bemoan the fact that you didn’t do everything in your power to participate. But if you don’t, you might just get left behind, and you will have no one to blame but yourself. You are the master of your destiny! Make it happen!

The Data Governance Journey – Part 2 – What is taking so long?

You know that little annoying hourglass that pops up when you try to load a new program, click on a web link or try to save a file? This is what I am reminded of as we work to establish a Data Governance program.

On Part 1 of the Data Governance Journey post, I described the steps that led to the beginning of our embarking on a Data Governance Program: we held a series of faciliated workshops where key stakeholders identified some common data related risks, and developed agreed upon outcomes and success measures. Our next steps were to formalize the agreement reached by communicating the outcomes and establishing funding for the program.

What happened next was the establishment of a solid Data Governance Program where everyone bought in, everyone complied with the new corporate policies and the data quality was perfect. Oh ha ha ha….hee hee hee… oh ho ho….I crack myself up sometimes 😛

What happened next probably could have been predicted by almost everyone who reads this post; some typical organizational cultural challenges and a lingering siloed view here and there resulted in a flurry of activity to put together a document, paper, elevator pitch, deck, business case, and a diagram or 2 that tried to show how a data governance program will solve their varied business problem(s).

So that’s what’s been taking so long. The word ‘varied’. As in sometimes widely different. And so we’ve been busy. Busy helping the business. Helping them take ownership of positioning and selling the program, and essentially building the Data Governance program. That’s right. Yah huh. You heard me. The business has taken ownership of establishing a data governance program. The business has taken ownership of establishing a data governance program. The business has taken ownership of establishing a data governance program. I could say this 100 times in a row it sounds so nice 😀

With all that variety who else could do it but the business? And the key here was that at the very least everyone could agree on that!

There is still some cultural resistance, and the odd hourglass might show up, but with the business leading the way, the future sure looks bright!

Use Common Language Please

A recent ITBusiness Edge blog post by @lorainelawson on “Why IT (vs Biz) Should Lead on Data Governance talked about who should be leading a data governance program and garnered some interesting comments on the subject of getting business leadership interested in investing in such a program. What interested me about this were the references to using common language when communicating with business. I’ve mentioned this many (MANY!) times yet continue to hear complaints from all sides about the use of terms, ancronymns and concepts that nobody understands. I mean how hard it is to understand that common language = common ground which leads to trust and collaboration? So maybe it’s just that we need some guidelines to help us do just that! So here are the few I’ve been ranting about:

  1. When organizing your message, if you are using ANY acronym, write out the words beside the acronym. People will then start to connect the two. If you don’t do it you will just get a lot of confused looks and grumpy recipients.  Here is an example of how it could look: “We would be in a better position to more effectively manage our information if we had an agreed upon IA (Information Architecture). 
  2. Now that you’ve written it out, is it self explanitory? If not, then you need to either provide a short description or link to a description. (The example in #1 provides a link to a description). If your recipient has to contact you for an explanation you’re not using common language. And if they have to search elsewhere for it you are wasting their valuable time.
  3. Don’t take a common or standard term and re-name it because you think the recepient might be more receptive. It’s a common term for goodness sake, don’t make it an un-common term!
  4. Don’t make up new terms, acronyms or labels without including your recipents in the process. Just how in the heck are they supposed to know what you are talking about? If they try to search for it (see #2 waste of their valuable time) and can’t even find it because it’s a made up word then you’ll be wasting their time AND they still won’t have any answers.
  5. Don’t use acronyms on page 2 of your document and provide their description on the page 27 appendix.
  6. Once you’ve written/videotaped/sung/or whatever your message, review it from the perspective of an outsider. Could they understand it’s meaning and respond appropriately?

In the world of Data Governance, and especially when trying to get business buy-in, using common language is a sure fire way to make sure we are all taking about the same thing. At the very least it will help identify when we aren’t talking about the same thing. It may not always be perfect, but it will look like you really took the time to make the message easy to comprehend, and it is sure to help you both on the road to common understanding. It can’t hurt right? Crikey, if dolphins can do it why can’t we?

Rant of the month #1 (there will be more, of that I am sure).

I just find it absolutely mind-boggling that some people in some kinds of positions (how did THAT happen?) will put up 20 foot steel bloody walls that results in you and others spending way too many additional hours jumping through bloody impossible hoops while at the same time they schedule a meeting to discuss empowering people. And yet they don’t see the irony. Amazing.

I’m done now.