Get Started Quickly with Data Governance

Get Started Quickly with Data Governance

Recently, Informatica hosted our MDM and Data Governance Summit in London. (For those of you unable to make it, have no fear. Informatica will be hosting another Summit, now titled MDM 360 Summit, in New York City in February). The two day summit was packed with informative customer presentations, hands-on product advisory councils, and an incredible amount of insight on all things data.

One of my biggest takeaways from the event was just how many organizations remain relatively new to thinking about topics like Data Governance. While this lack of progress was certainly a trend at the event from my perspective, it really should not have been a surprise. According to, the average data governance maturity score across all industries is 1.64 (based on over 300 completed self-assessments); meaning many of you out there are still early in your Data Governance journey.

As with any journey, the most important step is always the first one.  The problem with a new Data Governance initiative is that the direction for that first step is not always crystal clear. Even organizations with compelling data governance business drivers – like those in highly regulated industries challenged with achieving compliance with data-centric regulations – struggle with where to start.  From attending a number of the Data Governance related tracks at the Summit, I captured a few best practices that might be helpful as you kick off your Governance plans:

Identify the issues

Every organization is different and, frankly, every business opportunity that needs the support of governance is different. However, you need to identify where the challenges are coming from in order to begin to know the direction in which you need to head. One of the most insightful leanings from the Summit was on this topic. As Jason Edge – Director, Strategic IT Consultancy – Entity Group, explained to the crowd,  when starting a data governance program, you have to identify the source of where the problems are coming from in order to overcome them – then apply the competencies outlined in a data governance framework to start addressing the real issues with the data. Bottom line, find the problems, identify their source, agree on the business impact, and then get started.

Formulate a plan

As another presenter explained to the audience, a great Data Governance plan starts with getting everyone from the top down on the same page. The presenter suggested that you should consider crowd-sourcing your plan. To do this, you can outline the pain that your organization has today, create a vision for where you see your organization going, illustrate the plan, and post it around the office. Let people provide feedback and make it a collaborative undertaking. Couple this information collection strategy with insights from an external benchmark from a maturity assessment, and you can consolidate these learnings to acknowledge where you are today relative to your industry as well as your own internal perceptions.  And then use that information to build out your business case and project plan.

Just get started!

Then there’s that whole getting started piece. Again, the first step is always the hardest. How do you go from outlining your issues, formulating a plan, getting everyone moving in the same direction, to actually start moving in said direction? For that, consider how much governance is the right amount of governance. To add a cliché, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with a manageable project – one that won’t require as many resources, will deliver value in the short term, and where you can measure the results effectively to promote the next iteration. Maybe, like one of our customers at the Summit, you’ve noted that you have poor quality postal address data and it’s costing your organization money on returned direct mail. Take on this focused initiative and conquer it. Gain internal buy-in based on your success and move on to much larger issues with new found momentum.

Finally, to learn more about how your organization can have just enough data governance check out this helpful ebook to learn more.