Sunday, May 10, 2009

Data Governance – the Movie

To really drive home the challenge of data governance in your company, you have to believe that it’s a movie, not a photo. A snapshot is taken once and done, but that’s not what happens when you embark on a data governance initiative.

In a movie, you start with a hero – that’s you the data governance champion. You have a good heart and want to fight for justice in the cruel data management world.

Next, there needs to be conflict, a dark cloud that overshadows our hero. In most cases, the conflict goes back to the beginning when your company was just starting out. Back then, your first customers may have been from your local area at first, but slowly the circle began to grow - first locally, then regionally, then nationwide, then worldwide. As new offices opened and new systems were born, the silos formed. The hero warned the company that they need a data management strategy, but no one listened. Almost no small or medium sized company thinks about data management when they’re growing up, despite the best efforts of our heroes.

When it comes time to fix it all, you can’t think of it as taking a snapshot of the data and fixing it up with Photoshop. The hero must embark on a long journey of battle and self-sacrifice to defeat evil. Corporate change, like rapid growth, mergers, downsizing, and new laws governing the corporation happens frequently in business. The battle for corporate data management requires small steps to mature the corporation into a better way of doing business. It’s Neo from the Matrix fighting Agent Smith and evolving into ‘the One”. It’s John McLane slowly taking out the bad guys in Nakatomi Plaza.

I see what’s missing in many people’s minds in reference to data governance is that concept of time. It took a long time to mess up the data in your big corporation, and it takes time to reverse it. When you select your tools and your people and your processes for data governance, you always want to keep that enterprise vision in mind. The vision has a timeline, throughout which the data champion will have unexpected issues thrown at them. It’s not about the free data cleansing software that you get with your enterprise application. That stuff won’t hold up when you try to use it once you get out of your native environment. It’s about making sure the process, the team, and the tools stand up over time, across projects, across business units and across data types. There are few and fewer vendors standing who can offer that kind of enterprise vision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Calling all SUPERHEROS....

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.