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.

6 thoughts on “Stuff Happens.

  1. Jim Harris

    We have all missed you around the data governance and data quality blogosphere, Jill. And this awesome super duper brilliant crazy fun smart blog post reminds us why 🙂

  2. Nicole Carriere

    This is an awesome post Jill. Just love it. I just want to add that the 80/20 rule saved us a few (ok, many) times. 🙂

  3. Jill wanless

    Thank you for your awesome comment Jim. I missed sharing the story but hope to share and discover the many milestones and insights that 2012 should bring :).

    And thanks for the great feedback and reminder Nicole. The old 80/20 guiding principle helped us stay focused on the outcome, instead of wallowing in the weeds. It was very important that we not try to discover and solve every scenario, but to instead figure out what we need to resolve most ( or 80% ) of the scenarios, so that we can make some decisions and show measurable progress. What would we do without you? 🙂

  4. Dylan Jones

    It’s been too long, you’re one of the hardcore guerilla pioneers so we NEED more posts like these but then I guess you do have a job to go to!

    Love the post, keep them coming, we’ve missed you!

  5. Pingback: Getting Your Data Governance Stuff Together | The Data Roundtable

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