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Build A Prioritized Data Management Roadmap

In my recent white paper, “Holistic Data Governance: A Framework for Competitive Advantage”, I aspirationally state that data governance should be managed as a self-sustaining business function no different than Finance.  With this in mind, last year I chased down Earl Fry, Informatica’s Chief Financial Officer, and asked him how his team helps our company prioritize investments and resources.  Earl suggested I speak with the head of our enterprise risk management group … and I left inspired!   I was shown a portfolio management-style approach to prioritizing risk management investment.  It used an easy to understand, business executive-friendly visualization “heat map” dashboard that aggregates and summarizes the multiple dimensions we use to model risk .    I asked myself: if an extremely mature and universally relevant business function like Finance manages its business this way, can’t the emerging discipline of data governance learn from it? Here’s what I’ve developed…

To start, I believe many data management efforts struggle because planning and analysis efforts drive the wrong way on a one-way street. Does this process sound familiar?

  1. Survey/interview data consumers to identify data concerns or issues
  2. Build a data inventory
  3. Perform a CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) analysis across the core systems and processes where this data flows
  4. Identify candidate business processes where data breakdowns may be occurring – and search for business sponsors/partners to help evangelize and fund a data management initiative

This process is backwards in my opinion.  It starts with an out of context survey or set of interviews in Step 1, then boils the ocean with an all-encompassing data inventory in Step 2, performs a time-consuming, poorly focused, and often expensive consultant-driven CRUD analysis in Step 3, and then in Step 4 – as the last resort – attempts to find a business problem to solve.  

In one of my prior posts, “Data Governance Framework Walkthrough: Vision and Business Case,” I recommended data governance evangelists use the following approach to guide the selection of their top business opportunities:  

  1. Recognize the top business imperatives as defined by your CEO and Board of Directors. Most organizations have no more than 3-5 major objectives.    Want sponsorship? It starts here!
  2. Document the organizational business processes, decisions and stakeholder (e.g., customer, partner, employee) interactions that these top imperatives are most dependent upon. What keeps your executives up at night? What priority investments in people, process, and technology are you making today that must be optimized with trusted, secure data?  Finding the opportunities that directly support the top imperatives will motivate business leaders to at least listen to a compelling business case.  The answer to this question will also build a targeted Business Process Inventory that will provide useful guiderails for your program.
  3. Identify the data used to support those processes, decisions and interactions. Use the business context defined within your Business Process Inventory to scope how to build your first pass Data Inventory.  In essence, you are filtering thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of “relevant” enterprise data items to focus only on the “critical few” dozens or hundreds of data elements. (“Critical few” is implied based on the data’s contextual importance captured in questions 1 and 2.)
  4. Discover the upstream people, systems, and processes that create, capture, and update that data. Perform a more targeted and surgical set of CRUD assessments and analysis across only the scoped data and processes in steps 1-3. Where are the garbage in/garbage out backdoors that need to be sealed shut in order to protect or optimize the business objectives from the imperatives in Step 1?
  5. Ask your business end users about their level of confidence in the security and trustworthiness of that data. Now is the time to interview and/or survey only the process owners and data consumers about their confidence in the usability and security of the data feeding the critical processes identified in Step 2. Is the data auditable? Is there lineage? Can it be shared across functions and processes? Where are the potential gaps? Do stakeholders spend a significant amount of time manually validating the data?

This approach should deliver a more consumable list of business opportunities that could benefit from data management and data governance investments.  With this approach to compile a list of high potential opportunities in place, I was then able to apply what I learned from our Finance team!

I designed a model and assessment tool to help weigh your options and help build out your prioritized data management roadmap.  Informatica’s free Business Opportunity Prioritization Assessment Tool is now available on www.GovernYourData.com. (To access, you just need to register for the community).

Use this tool to assess each of your identified business opportunities in a standardized “apples to apples” manner by answering questions related to the anticipated business value you expect each opportunity to deliver against the anticipated level of investment and effort that will be required.  

The graphic below is a sample of a completed assessment. These ten business opportunities are just examples to illustrate a variety of opportunities – your opportunities in this tool will be whatever you define them to be.

To see a video demonstration of how this tool works and the results, you can click here.

I hope this tool will be a useful addition to your data governance toolkit! And as always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

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