Category Archives: Data Governance

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.

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?

Data Quality – The Inadvertent Oxymoron


It boggles my mind.

How can a unit/team/group have processes that either flat-out cause data quality problems or enable them by turning a blind eye, yet have budget and resources assigned to fixing up the mess after the fact? How can a phenomenon such as this occur? Is it because the organization is new at Data Quality and their idea of resolving it is to apply re-active fixes because they don’t know any better? I DON’T THINK SO!

I think they know better. I think they know better but they also know that resolving it will require Data Governance which means organizational change. Big Change. And discomfort. Big discomfort.

So here is my question then. How can our leaders, strategists, financial analysts and auditors present their budget figures for the year and get approval for this inadvertent Oxymoron of processes?

Just sayin…

The iaidq Blog Carnival


Each month the IAIDQ (International Association for Information and Data Quality) asks the data quality blogging community to submit their blog posts for the El Festival del IDQ Bloggers.  A different blogger volunteers (or you might be asked like me!)  to host the blog posts along with a brief summary of the submissions on their own blog.  I am very proud to be asked to host the latest event. 


First up is Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen, a Data Quality, Master Data Management and Data Architecture professional who lives in Copenhagen. Henrik is always one of the first (could it have to do with his location do you think 😉 )  to start the #FF’s on twitter and is a great commenter on the blogs of others. One of the things I noticed about Henrik (besides his gentle sense of humor) is that he is always very interested in learning about how things work (differently) in countries around the world. Henrik shares this interest by pointing out the differences in his blogs and comments and he also takes the time to identify the countries of origin when he tweets his #FF’s. I think it’s pretty cool too so thanks Henrik! 

Be sure to read Henrik’s submission called “What are they doing?” , a comment provoking post on the subject of  “assigning values for your customers/prospects industry vertical (or Line-of-Business or market segment or whatever metadata name you like)”.  Don’t forget to have a look at the rest of Henrik’s excellent posts and of course you need to follow @hlsdk on twitter! 


Next is Steve Sarsfield, Data Quality/Data Governance evangelist and author of the highly rated book The Data Governance Imperative . Steve is a popular tweeter, public and webinar speaker, white paper author and youtuber (What? podcasts Steve?.. :P) on the topic of data quality and data governance and has a sizable following due to his experience, insight and passion for all things Governance. Steve submitted an excellent post called Change management and Data Governance on the topic of  the parallels between change management and data governance. Be sure to read Steve’s post and the rest of his blog  Data Governance and The Data Quality Insider and don’t forget to follow @stevesarsfield on twitter. 


Next on the list is one of my new twitter friends Ken O’Connor. Ken is an independent Data Consultant located in Ireland, who specialises in helping organisations satisfy the Data Quality / Data Governance requirements of compliance programmes such as Solvency II, BASEL II, Anti Money Laundering, Anti Fraud, Anti Terrorist Financing, and Single Customer View – classic Master Data Management challenges. Ken submitted his blog post on the “Ryanair Data Entry Model“, a recommended model of data entry used by most low-cost airlines, where customers take care to ensure that each piece of information they enter is correct – because it matters to them! Be sure to check out the rest of  Ken’s Blog: Ken O’Connor Data Consultant, and follow him on Twitter here: @KenOConnorData  



It wouldn’t be a DQ blog carnival without including a post from Daragh O Brien, former IAIDQ publicity director, founder member of the IAIDQ, and  leader of the IAIDQ’s community in Ireland. Author, blogger, and an independent consultant with Castlebridge Associates, Daragh has been an active member of the International information/data quality community since 2004. Daragh is hugely supportive of sharing expertise, and is (obviously ;)) great at encouraging bloggers such as myself to take on a participatory role in the DQ community. Check out Daragh’s great submission: The Who, What, How and Why,  which describes the simple need for organisations to be able to answer the what/why/how and who questions about the information that fuels their business. Check out the rest of Daragh’s The DO Blog and be sure and follow @daraghobrien and @IAIDQ on twitter. 


Initiate, an IBM Company, submitted a couple of blog posts from their Initiate Mastering Data Management corporate blog. 

Larry Dubov,  internationally recognized expert in MDM and CDI and an author of over eighty publications wrote a three part series on data quality metrics: Measuring MDM and Data Governance Success, Defining Data Quality Metrics: Uniqueness, Completeness, Latency & Consistency and More Data Quality Metrics: Standardization, Availability, Adoption and Reference Data.  Dr. Larry Dubov is Senior Director and Partner of Business Management Consulting at Initiate, an IBM Company. You can check out Larry’s complete profile on LinkedIn:

Ian Stahl’s The Business Data Steward: A “Kaizen” Approach to MDM hits on a lot of topic areas around the empowerment and investment of business stakeholders around data management and Ian received some great comments.  Ian is the Director of Product Management for Enterprise Solutions at Initiate, and in that capacity oversees Initiate’s offerings in Financial Services, Manufacturing, Insurance, Retail, Hospitality and other segments of the Master Data Management market. Access Ian’s LinkedIn profile: 

I couldn’t find twitter accounts for either Larry or Ian so let me know if I’ve erred. But never fear, you CAN get all the scoop on these stories and more (including a great sense of humor and some biting insight) by following one of my favorite tweeps, @Initiate.   


The last post is by the infamous Jim Harris, Obsessive Compulsive Data Quality thought leader, blogger, tweeter, philosopher, vicarious reader, lover and quoter of sci-fi, Pixar movies and just about every good line from Battlestar Galactica! Jim, who resides in Iowa,  has over 15 years of professional services and application development experience in data quality (DQ), data integration, data warehousing (DW), business intelligence (BI), customer data integration (CDI), and master data management (MDM). Jim is also an independent consultant, speaker, vlogger and writer, and although I have never met Jim personally, I think of Jim as one of my very best virtual friends :). Jim submitted 6 posts (out of the 21 he wrote in August) and I urge you to read them all, as they provide value and insight into the perceptions, challenges, recommendations, best practices and (of course) philosophy of all things Data Quality related.   

Get Zippy with Selling the business benefits of Data Quality 

What came first, the Data Quality Tool or the Business Need?   

The Road of Collaboration   

The Real Data Value is Business Insight 

The popular (and one of my fav’s) Some is not a number and Soon is not a time   

And The Fifth Law of Data Quality, Jim’s DataFlux Community of Expert’s Post. 

Check out the rest of Jim’s OCDQ Blog and be sure to follow Jim as @ocdqblog on Twitter! 

Thanks to everyone who submitted their blogs, a truly amazing selection of great stories and information! And for the rest of you, don’t be shy! Anyone can submit a data quality blog post and experience the benefits of extra traffic, networking with other bloggers and discovering interesting posts and new ways to tackle data quality issues.


Informal Data Governance?

Can data governance be informal? Is there such a thing? Doesn’t formalization make up a key (and critical) component of Governance? As in; formal roles and responsibilities, formal processes including escalation, formal decision bodies, formal communications, templates, etc etc..
Isn’t informal data governance not data governance at all, but a hugely expensive and time-consuming (and mind-numbing…don’t forget to add mind-numbing…) approach to getting people to buy in?
Just sayin….
What do you think?

The Data Governance Journey – Part 1- Getting Started

Our organization is finally (YAY!!) embarking on a Data Governance program and I’d like to share the saga journey with you. If you are unfamiliar with my story here are the basics:

  • Due to a CRM initiative there was an agreed upon corporate need for Data Quality
  • I was asked to lead the development of the program and establish the team
  • The business functional areas agreed that data quality was needed but were not in a position to sponsor or champion the initiative
  • The program and team had executive IT sponsorship
  • In 4 years the team established a solid program and raised considerable awareness, but due to lack of business sponsorship or a champion much of the work was re-active.

Now, due to a major data related initiative, the corporation has once again agreed that data quality is an issue that needs to be resolved in order for the initiative to be successful. But what’s different this time is that the agreement was formalized.

How we achieved this

A series of workshops were established where those who had agreed that data quality was a critical success factor for the corporate initiative were asked to attend. The workshops were a series of facilitated meetings where different stakeholders were asked to identify goals and objectives, roadblocks and risks and what are the things they felt would enable them to achieve their objectives. The outcomes that resulted were varied but what was obvious were the common themes around their data;  ‘accountability’, ‘establishment of formal policies and compliance processes’, ‘a senior cross functional decision body’, and ‘Training and Communication’, all components of a Data Governance Program. Success measures were also a part of the workshop and agreement was reached on those as well. The final workshop was used to confirm what was agreed upon, what the success measures were and recommended next steps.

Key Strategies

  • Use cross functional workshops to formalize the common themes stakeholders have already informally agreed upon.
  • External consultants help facilitate the process by using subject matter expertise to guide the alignment between business and IT.
  • Always be sure to identify agreed upon success measures.
  • Once agreement is achieved confirm, confirm, confirm the outcomes and next steps.
  • Document the outcomes, agreements, next steps and communicate to the organization.
  • Be sure to include the process to establish funding as a next step.

The Challenges

Most of the stakeholders that were needed to participate are mostly at the senior level and so their availability was a challenge.

What we did

  • Reinforcement of the verbal stakeholder agreements, the corporation’s business objectives and how quality data will help achieve those objectives really helped. Once the first workshop took place everyone was keen to continue and so it got easier to obtain their participation in later sessions.

That’s it so far….I imagine things may get a little more interesting as we get into the development of the program. 

Be sure and tune in for the next episode: Part 2 – Overcoming (the first set of) obstacles.