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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

About the author >

Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is founder and principal consultant at Eckerson Group,a research and consulting company focused on business intelligence, analytics and big data.

I recently read an interesting interview with Andy Haylor, founder of The Information Difference, discussing the results of an in-depth survey on data governance practices that he conducted with the Data Governance Institute.

Having just completed a 40-page report titled "Creating an Enterprise Data Strategy: Managing Data as a Corporate Asset," I thought his results make a good supplement to my findings. While I focused more broadly on data management and data quality issues, he honed in on critical success factors for managing data governance programs.

In particular, he correlated successful data governance programs with the following characteristics:

  • A data governance mission statement
  • A clear and documented process for resolving disputes
  • Good policies for controlling access to business data
  • An active risk register
  • Effective logical models for key business data domains
  • Either business processes defined at a high level or fully documented at several levels and available for data governance
  • Data quality assessments that were undertaken on a regular basis
  • A documented business case
  • A link between program objectives and team or personal objectives
  • A comprehensive training program
  • A Web site alongside a broader range of communication methods

This isn't rocket science for sure. But it does take a lot of work to implement all or even some of the tasks or practices listed above. And if the program truly manages cross-functional data, then the process is that much more challenging since departmental politics begins to encroach. For that reason, I think the most important success factor in Andy's list is a "clear and documented process for resolving disputes."

Documenting the business case is also important, but it's something few organizations do. Most are just glad to get permission (or tacit approval) to launch a data governance program, citing that as justification enough. Usually, executives endorse such programs because they've suffered a major problem due to lack of clean, consistent data and recognize that data governance is simply a cost of doing business. However, without a clear cost/benefit analysis, it's too easy for data governance programs to be swept aside by changing currents in the organization, such as a new executive, an acquisition, or a new strategy.

It takes time for data governance programs and processes to take root and become an immoveable part of the corporate culture. Until that happens, program managers must do everything in their power to nurture and shepherd their fledgling programs until they achieve the "this is the way we've always done it" status for managing data. This is probably why only 23% of respondents to Haylor's survey said they have a "highly" or "quite" successful data governance program.

Posted June 22, 2011 1:53 PM
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