Developing a Strategy for your Data Governance Initiative

Below is an excerpt from an article that I wrote an article for July edition of IHRIM’s Journal Workforce Solution Review on Developing a Strategy for your Data Governance Initiative”.  To read the full article, please visit:

Data. It has been called the lifeblood of an organization, a strategic asset, the Holy Grail. When data is readily available in the proper format and analyzed with the right tools, it can unlock the mysteries of success: customer buying patterns, inefficient process or areas of unknown profitability. It is the promise of the system that you implemented.

Data. It is also been called a source of frustration, a great responsibility and a pain in the neck to manage. When data is not available or available in an un-secure format, it can make you feel like you paid for a Ferrari, but drive a Fiat or leave your greatest assets exposed to thieves and hackers. It is the nightmare that you wake up to every night.

Data. It is a conundrum. Few doubt its importance and power in the information age. According to a CBR survey of 302 Senior IT Business Leaders, over 80% of the organization surveyed view data as a strategic asset. However only 45% of organizations surveyed have a formal data governance strategy. Out of those organizations that have a data governance strategy, compliance and legislation was the top driver, followed by risk management, operational efficiency, revenue optimization and cost control.

These findings are particularly interesting as they depict that the main reason we govern one of our most strategic assists is because of regulatory pressure and risk avoidance, not its strategic value. Just as interesting are the reasons given as to why organizations do not have a formal data governance strategy:

  • Considered too complex
  • Not seen as important by senior management
  • Getting individual department buy-ins
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of Budget
  • Not seen as important by the IT Department. 1

Just as the case with most systems issues’, the reason above do not reflect technical obstacles, but non-technical roadblocks such as lack of understanding, lack of communication and lack of priority or organizational importance.  Therefore, a major part of establishing a data governance program is to not only define a strategy for your initiative, but also obtain the necessary buy-in to move your plan forward.

Defining a Strategy
As with most systems initiative, developing an implementable plan is a project and challenge in itself. Aim to big and your never get anywhere. However, a plan that only patches the holes in the boat may keep you floating, but brings you no close to your destination. An effective approach is to develop a strategy that consists of several prioritized projects implemented over time.

Building Consensus for Data Governance Strategy
Now that you have a defined a phased data governance strategy, you need to get everybody on the same page about your strategy, secure funding and drive the initiative forward. Building consensus can be tricky as everyone has their own opinions and agenda which may be different from what you are trying to accomplish.

In summary, organizations should approach developing data governance plans as they would for any other enterprise initiative: by analyzing the current environment; categorizing and prioritizing the initiatives across the enterprise and developing a phased and prioritized implementation approach. However, critical to the success of the plan is the ability to address the non-technical factors such as creating awareness, developing a solid business case and communicating the value of the plan to the organization. Without the solid communication strategy to build consensus and move the initiative forward, the intended data governance strategy may never reach its fully implemented potential to go beyond risk and compliance and unlock the strategic value an important organizational asset.

To read the full article, please visit:


  1. CBR Data Governance Survey 2010. Computer Business Review. January 2011


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