Anything "governance" just sounds like a headache-and data governance is no exception.
In fact, in a recent CBR survey, done in conjunction with DataFlux, when those without formal data governance programs were asked why they didn't have a data governance strategy, one-in-four said it was too complex:
The combination of technology, people and processes can often prove too much due to the changes in responsibility, thinking and culture that are required. Data governance is so complex that it's difficult to simply buy a product that can do it; it needs a genuine collaborative effort between IT and the rest of the business.
I hate meetings, so I'm the last person to advocate for more of them-and data governance seems like something that could turn into a meeting abyss. Still, as I wrote about recently, data governance can provide a foundation for making your life easier when it comes to data quality, data management and even data integration.
Consider this-a strong data governance program will:
- Be enterprise-wide
- Identify who owns and can use data
- Outline the business rules and pertinent processes related to the data
- Identify key performance indicators for measuring data quality and the effectiveness of the data governance program
Here are five reasons why that translates into smoother, more effective, integration projects:
- Data governance can help with IT/business alignment. Because governance identifies what's important to the business, from metrics to business rules, data governance will provide sign posts for what's really important to the business. This will help you, as an IT group, identify where you should focus when you're tackling integration.
- Data governance can help you find executive sponsors and obtain business buy-in. Data governance outlines decision rights and who's accountable for data. This is valuable information, and surprisingly hard to pin down in a world where business divisions see data as "an IT problem." Because governance clarifies this question, it can help you identify the key stakeholders and decision makers for any integration projects. And as we all know by now, business involvement and sponsorship is a key component of project success.
- Data governance can help you build a business case and measure it. "A strong data governance program can help your company measure the right things, and measure them right," BPM Magazine recently pointed out. This is especially true if data governance is enterprise-wide. You can use this to develop a business case and identify an ROI for future data integration projects. As an added bonus, you'll also know what needs to be measured on your own projects to ensure you're successfully meeting business goals.
- Data governance tells you who's responsible for the data-and by extension, data quality. One of the problems with integration is that it can be very tactical in nature. You've moved the data, put the proper file types together, but there are still six different "John Does," which leaves the broader business problems unaddressed. Who's the right John Doe? What's the correct contact information? But since data governance tells you who's responsible for the data, you know where to go to resolve these sorts of data quality questions.
- A mature data governance program can save you money, since-according to some maturity models-it involves establishing best practices and even standardizing on data integration and quality tools.
Of course, in some ways, this is a chicken-and-egg problem. You can't reap the integration benefits without data governance, and it's hard to argue for data governance if you're busy fighting silos.
Here is some additional reading that will help you convince your organization that data governance is a worthwhile pursuit: