Many organizations struggle with executing a cohesive data strategy because they are playing “whack-a-mole” with data quality. In healthcare for example, when looking at data fields registering a patient, that data could be correct; but if the wrong lab value is associated to the patient’s medical record number, it’s all bad and casts doubt on all data reliability.

With pervasive data silos still in place, organizations struggle to rely on quality insights. While one part of the organization may have actionable and reliable data, bad data elsewhere perpetuates a lack of trust in resources for decision making. This becomes a data liability.

Governed data is managed as a strategic asset instead of a byproduct of IT systems.

Joint business and technical governance of data fundamentally changes its value. Governed data provides the platform to turn information into insights. To become a data-driven organization, stakeholders need to alter their thinking about how data can be leveraged to deliver on the need for increased value.

Governance is key to breaking through the historically bureaucratic culture of many organizations. It requires an organization to transform thinking away from data as a byproduct of systems towards data as a strategic asset providing actionable insights.

Governance initiatives also increase value through providing insights into customer behavior, customer experience, employee productivity, operation productivity and many other areas. Here are a few examples:

  • Cost and operational analytics drive cost-cutting and revenue growth strategies that allow business leadership to collaboratively assess the efficacy of the various efforts
  • Prospective and prescriptive analytics are used to predict what customer costs may be incurred in a year – helping inform new customer experience initiatives and activity to manage churn risk
  • Reliable reporting on customer segmentation and behavior drive campaigns and workflow for effective, high-quality customer retention and satisfaction

Don’t ‘boil the ocean’. Do start with the end-in-mind. Here are some guiding principles for charting a successful data governance journey:

  • Evaluate your data library and the story it is telling. Ensure that existing data sources and reports are inventoried to understand its gaps and areas of duplication. Identify and quantify the gaps in standardized definitions, calculations, metrics, usage, and decision support.
  • Engage Business and IT functions to oversee governance. Make sure your vision engages all stakeholders early in the process. These are both your champions and your consumers. They have to be completely aligned with the effort.
  • Focus on a “burning platform” to start. Compliance. Cost Management. Revenue Leakage. Disagreement over the reporting on key performance metrics. Tie the effort to a broader creation of organizational value.
  • Make it about improvement, not an IT project. While IT expertise is required, IT is a steward of the data, not the owner. Focus should be on quality data delivered to end-users so they can make the best decisions regarding action. Business and operational decision makers must take ownership of the data.
  • Ensure appropriate commitment and resources from all leaders. This is a transformative change for organizations. Visible and active support of senior leaders is paramount to ensuring success. Data governance is not achieved as someone’s side job. Technology and operational expertise is critical to drive progress and maturity.
  • Seek to establish trust and transparency, not gate-keeping. The data governance organization should not function as a gatekeeper. Its role is to provide transparent direction and support in achieving actionable information to serve end-users.
  • Establish the capabilities for efficient data management. Deploy processes and supporting technology that proactively identify and address data quality issues; ensure standards and compliance; automate data integration.

Adopting a data governance program demonstrates an organization’s commitment to managing its information as a valued strategic asset.

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