With lots of hype in the Data Management world about Data Governance (DG) as a program – the most observed scenario is that DG programs failure even before they begin.  There are many articles in many blogs articulating about DG program failure and I intended to write my experience in these lines.  With the consulting experience in the area of Data Governance, I explored – “rather discovered” many mistakes are made during the planning phases of DG program. I have taken quick minutes to write down in my blog so that, at Hexaware we take precautions to avoid these slipups during our consulting. To quickly give an idea on what is Data Governance – it is all about governing the organization wide data to accomplish organization mission by putting personnel, policies, procedures, and organizational structures in place to make data accurate, consistent and secure.  Data Governance as a program should always be on the highest precedence in any business because of organizations must fulfill its business responsibilities, expectations and the legal requirements. The usual trend is that Data Governance program is initiated and executed as an IT initiative rather than a Business Initiative. CXOs awareness toward data governance is very important and it is strongly recommended that they drive their organization vision using data governance as a tool. As said, Data Governance requires more than just a few members of the IT staff with a project plan, rather it requires participation and commitment of IT & business management, as well as senior-level executive sponsorship and active consultation with stakeholders of interest.

As said, I would like to list below the most common mistakes in the industry which leads to the failure of DG program even before it starts.

Mistake 1 – Partial / NO Participation from Stakeholders and Executive Leadership

It is important that DG steering committee spends considerable amount of time in preparing and coaching executive leadership team to really understand and believe that the value of DG is bigger than the cost. Preparing a DG program without having full support and understanding from executive management is a big mistake.

Mistake 2 – No Awareness and Beliefs that Data Governance will help and resolve data problems

Perception towards Data Quality and Single Version of Truth has to be conjoint across the stakeholders and this would be the ultimate aim for any DG program. By not devoting adequate effort to help stakeholders understand how serious and valuable the DG is, How big value will be gained when the task is done and how much will be lost if we fail has to be properly communicated before we start a DG program

Mistake 3 – Lets’s do a Proof of Concepts on DG

DG is always executed as a program and usually large in size. Ignoring that the DG is one solid program at the beginning making it a try-and-see program would end-up with a great failure.  The best way could be to have a pilot scope for data re-architecting, data improvement part with choosing smaller database domains and avoiding reducing DG program scope.

Mistake 4 – Data Governance Program can be Agile

It is always suggested to follow program design always as initial planning, executing, monitoring and controlling phases, do not skip any of these steps by terming DG as an Agile program. Avoid making it in small phases like typical web software projects. Setup a proper roadmap for the DG program. Sometimes organizations think they can tweak the roadmap, expert’s metrics and change targets and deliverables so that they can save money. This could create a disordered situation and may require organization to pay additional cost to the consultants to govern the ungoverned DG program.

Mistake 5 – DG as a Software Project

Always it is recommended to propose the DG program as a business initiative and not as a software project. Software is just an enabling medium to get it happen.

Mistake 6 – DG AS A Short Term Initiative

Data Governance programs need to be active for organization’s whole life term. To make this happen, organization should have the momentum increased, and understand clearly that Data Governance requires a lifecycle attention starting from the day one.

To conclude and keep this blog simple and short – Data Governance (DG) as program possess a high beta value for failure and hence Data Governance as a program is more Fragile than Agile. Please handle it with care.

The writer is the Principal Consultant and Pre Sales Head – Europe for Business Intelligence, Hexaware Technologies.

Posted by Ravishwaran Pattabi
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May 10th, 2011

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