Data Governance banana skins - My top ten tips on avoiding a slip up

01 December 2016


Data Governance banana skinssudden, unexpected and sometimes create embarrassing Data Governance situations, often causing difficulty in realising long-term governance success

This series of blogs will centre on a proven approach and methodology to help you begin, reinvigorate or relaunch your Data Governance initiative and help to keep it going long after you’ve handed over the reins to the business users. This will enable the creation of a program that is manageable, iterative and sustainable. Most importantly, I’ll provide insights gained from real-life implementations in various sectors.

Data Governance banana skins can be easily side-stepped or comprehensively planned for if you know what to look out for in advance.  In this series of blogs I’m turning the commonly sought after “essential guide” to Data Governance on its head. Assuming you’ve done some high-level research on the design and deployment of a Data Governance program, you’ll now be asking the classic “what should we do now?” question. I, however, will talk through the things that you shouldn’t do. I’ll highlight bad practice instead of concentrating solely on good practice. Avoiding the pitfalls will set you on a path to success.

Establishing a robust Data Governance program goes beyond the creation of a vision, a strategy and a policy. It’s more than assigning stakeholder ownership and stewardship responsibilities that you hope will be taken seriously and followed rigidly. Using this ‘fingers-crossed and hope for the best’ approach is rarely successful and never sustainable. Alongside that, the banana skins along the way mean a Data Governance program is often set for failure before the wheels go into motion; the lack of direction, appetite and budget coupled with the pushback from colleagues can make this a tiresome and fruitless endeavour.

These Data Governance banana skins are a few of the many that you’ll encounter. Once you develop the skills needed to spot and dodge these, you’ll be better prepared to keep your program on track.

Banana skin dodges

1. Enterprise-wide Data Governance cannot be achieved in one hit

Don’t take on too much at once. It’s the careful combination of Enterprise and Operational Data Governance that leads to the creation of a sustainable and successful program that grows stronger in size and strength. I’ll cover this and PwC’s Data Governance Framework in more detail in Part II of the series.

2. Starting without a clear goal is a no-no

There needs to be a driver – a reason for your endeavour. Without this you’ll lose focus on what you set out to achieve and any successes will be difficult to measure or communicate out to the business.

3. If you don’t know where you are, how can you plan your route?

A critical success factor is knowing where you’re strong, where you’re weak, and where there is opportunity for data improvements. PwC’s Data Governance Maturity Assessment allows the business to establish levels of maturity, prioritise activities and build a roadmap to success.

4. Don’t keep secrets. Spread the word about your initiative

Don’t forget to let people know what you’re doing and why. Running a program of work needs successful internal marketing and a well-planned communication plan – without this, no one will understand the program and very few will care.

5. Don’t go it alone – get your team ready

Whether it’s an internal team alone or if you supplement the effort with external expertise, ensure you have the right people on-board. Your sponsors, leaders, champions, stakeholders, experts – they all matter. Without this team, you’ll be sure to slip up on a few banana skins as people are the key to any successful data initiative.

6. Don’t be a sheep. Be the Shepherd. What Data Governance components actually matter to you?

PwC’s Data Governance Framework provides a leading view on the make-up of Data Governance. However, not every component will matter in every situation. There is no “one size fits all” in Data Governance and if someone tells you otherwise – run. They’re setting themselves (and potentially you) up for the slip up we’re working to avoid.

7. Don’t dictate - collaborate

Data Governance is most successful when you set up your feedback loops early with the stakeholders. Creating a program of work independently or in an exclusive group and hitting the business with your grand plans may not go down too well. It won’t win you any support!

8. If you notice a flaw in the design, don’t ignore it

Each implementation will highlight some weaknesses and areas of improvement in the model, implementation method, measurement, tools amongst other areas. Ignoring these will mean that future implementations run the risk of failing.

9. “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” - Abraham H. Maslow

Business users will only do what they can with the tools that they have. If you expect them to undertake specific tasks, do they have the right tools with which to do it? Can they measure data quality? Can they create dashboards? If they cannot do what is asked of them then the program may fail.

10. Once implemented, it’s not over – it’s never over

Data Governance is not a one time thing. Real Data Governance is iterative, dynamic, expanding, improving. It’s not a project, it’s a program of work that needs consistent management and maintenance. Consider a Centre of Excellence and business change management.

In the next blog, learn more about overcoming the first three banana skins. We know that enterprise-wide Data Governance cannot be achieved in one hit and I will talk about how Data Governance can be implemented in a sustainable and iterative way. I will also discuss setting realistic goals and planning your route to success. Until then, if you have any immediate questions or queries, please do get in touch!



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