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Kelle O'Neal

Thanks for joining our data conversation! This blog is an opportunity to share the real life challenges, opportunities and approaches to improving the quality and value of data in your organization. We will write about everything data related from translating "data" speak into "business" speak, to governance models, to the real differences among the myriad software tools available. But there's one catch: we all have to agree to toss out the fluff. That's right, no 30,000 foot, theoretical strategies that leave you wondering how to execute and actually improve performance. Visit regularly to learn from peers and partners on how they are managing and improving data, and we hope you'll also share your views and experiences.

About the author >

As Founder and Managing Partner of First San Francisco Partners, Kelle O’Neal manages specialist data governance and data management consulting services to complex organizations that deliver faster time to results. Kelle can be reached at kelle@firstsanfranciscopartners.com or through the First San Francisco Partners website.

Follow First San Francisco Partners on Twitter at @1stSanFrancsico.

Editor's Note: Find more articles and resources in Kelle's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

November 2015 Archives

Whether your data governance program has been recently deployed or has already matured into a going concern in your organization, consistent and impactful communication plays a critical role in translating data value into business value.

A communication plan lays out a strategy to help an organization achieve its awareness goals. It describes the What, When, Where, Why and How of a communication program and is meant to create a bi-directional conversation.

With a solid communication plan, you can keep stakeholders informed of your program's progress and accomplishments, fostering executive buy-in and ongoing commitment.

Your communication plan can also:

  • Give the working team a day-to-day work focus
  • Help stakeholders and the working team set priorities
  • Provide stakeholders with a sense of order and controls
  • Provide a demonstration of value to the stakeholders and other business folks
  • Help stakeholders support the data program
  • Help to protect the data program against last-minute demands from stakeholders

The key to communication that resonates is to ensure the metrics and measurements map to stakeholders' defined professional and personal goals.

Here are some starter questions to help as you develop your plan:

  • Who needs to be communicated to?
  • What information is important to them? 
  • How frequently should they be updated? 
  • What is the method of communication?
  • Who should be communicating the message?

For further inspiration, here are some components of a communication plan you'll want to tailor to specific stakeholder groups.

Components of Communication Plan

Posted November 22, 2015 4:15 AM
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Having previously identified five common pitfalls to data governance, let's now look at some best practices you'll want to adopt in each case to help you get back on track or avoid falling into that trap in the first place.

Pitfall #1: Governing data from within IT

Best Practice: Identify and recruit a change leader on the Business side

Though IT is often the first to identify the need for data governance, Business is generally the primary creator, fixer and user of that data. Not surprisingly, data governance tends to be much more successful when the control of data occurs from within Business.

When looking for an executive sponsor for your data governance program, you'll want to consider the following qualities:

  • Ability to lead cross-functional initiatives
  • Ability to manage multiple political functions simultaneously
  • High regard as a respected leader
  • Self-confidence and flexibility
  • Ability to communicate effectively and inspire others

You'll also want to consider the impact data has on the potential sponsor's business unit, ensuring there is a high level of interest. The right business-focused change leader can subsequently help drive implementation of other best practices.

Pitfall #2: Governing data in silos

Best Practice: Establish enterprise data governance so people "Think globally and act locally"

While a data governance program confined to an individual business unit or line of business will likely help that unit or line, problems arise because data is shared across different business groups--each group defines a given data element according to their own needs and perspectives and this can lead to inconsistencies in information and inefficient or suboptimal decisions.

Data governance can only be successful when an organization governs data as an enterprise asset. The cross-functional steering committee, for example, can ensure shared definitions are consistent across groups and that value is created across the enterprise. It is important for people to "think globally but act locally." Data governance existing in silos is not without value, however, as what is already in place can be leveraged and built out to the enterprise.

Pitfall #3: Assuming everyone understands and appreciates the value of data

Best Practice: Communicate early and often about the impact of inaccurate and inconsistent data and the benefit of data governance

While some stakeholders are involved in or at least aware of all that goes into cleaning data and appreciate the value of that data to the organization, others who only see the data after it has been cleaned may have little appreciation for its true value. Thus it is important to communicate this value and the benefit of data governance from the start and repeatedly after that. The change leader and sponsor identified in the first best practice should play a central role in this communication.

Pitfall #4: Using meaningless metrics

Best Practice: Measure impact as well as progress

Borrowing from the pitfall addressed above, we can understand how, for example, a process metric reflecting a decrease in data errors is meaningful to a group that actively scrubs the data and addresses problems with it, but that metric may mean little to another group that only sees the data in its clean state.

That's why it is important to measure (and, of course, communicate) both impact and progress and to translate metrics into business value. In the above example, we want to understand how the progress metric (reduction in data errors) translates into improvements in the business, a KPI.

Pitfall #5: Treating data governance as a project

Best Practice: Embed data governance into your operations

When implementing a data governance initiative, organizations will often approach it as they would a project, with a distinct beginning, middle and end, and funding allocated accordingly. However, data governance is an ongoing program that cannot be sustained without continued resources and support.

It is critical for organizations to ensure data governance is fully integrated into their operations and that it continues to receive necessary funding and attention. Ensuring from the start that your operating model fits the culture of your company facilitates embedding data governance into your operations and aligning your strategy for long-term sustainability.

Posted November 21, 2015 4:00 AM
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