Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Data Governance – Does it take a platform?

I was reading through a major enterprise software vendor’s white paper and their recommendations on how to launch a data governance program. (I’m not going to provide a link - it wasn’t worth it.) Of course, much of the messaging was around buying software and the “platform” you need to do data governance… their platform.

Yet, I’m not sure it’s the wisest choice to start by buying a data governance platform. If your solution to data governance is to buy software, then you’re not really doing data governance. So much of data governance is about things like getting executives to recognize data as an asset, setting up processes, planning teams and resources, the politics of data ownership, understanding the goals of the organization and making decisions about data to support them, and so on.

Now I know it’s blasphemy for a guy who works for an enterprise software company to talk like that. In the past, I probably have been guilty of pushing the platform over process improvements. But, it’s a new day. I see real successes starting to emerge from companies who begin by taking a look at the strategy and process of data governance in the context of their business plan. Companies are beginning to soul-search a bit, before buying a platform, to know how ready they are for data governance and plan their maturation process.

Why not bring in some expertise on data governance first? Bring in the right mix of technology and business experience to build a plan, build a process and work through the politics of data governance first. There are some pretty good systems integrators out there who can help. We have partnerships with Accenture and Deloitte, for example, and they have helped set strategy on many projects.

Trillium Software also has a growing business around the business strategy of data governance. These programs are run by an arm of our professional services team called strategic services, and they too are really starting to show promise, as they work hand-in-hand with our customers to set up the processes and strategy of data governance, opening up communications between IT and management on data governance. These include the following programs:

• Data Quality Workshop - a knowledge sharing exercise that incorporates interactive group dynamics, analytics, and presentations to learn about the customer’s business, understand and share key aspects of a total data quality solution, and determine how to best solve business problems through a comprehensive data quality program. We’ll come in for a couple of days and help you through some of the data governance strategy.

• Strategic Planning Services - a service offering that helps you to build a future vision for data quality that optimizes processes and improves data quality enterprise-wide. This service focuses on future data quality strategies such as dealing with complex enterprise data quality deployments, expansion of data quality initiatives and the effects of mergers and acquisitions on the business.

• Data Governance Planning – This service helps organizations with developing, refining, and supporting their data governance strategies and programs. It recognizes that data quality by itself does not define data governance. Rather, it also includes a focus on business processes and people to achieve success.

If this is something that your company needs, send me an e-mail and I’ll set it up for you, or find out more here. These workshops are particularly helpful if you have some key stakeholders dragging their feet on data governance. They can help you all get on the same page.

Does it take a platform to do data governance? Maybe, but data governance is a far-off dream for many companies. In this case, it takes a lot more than technology to fulfill a dream.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.