I’ve never tried it, but just because grease improves the operation of an engine, it doesn’t mean it will also be effective on your knees. The same logic applies to Data Governance. Just because you apply something in a random place doesn’t guarantee a smoother data-driven organisation.
Data Governance and grease do have something in common though: Both will help you if you apply it correctly and consistently.
The comparison goes even further… If you don’t apply grease on an engine at all, it might work for a while, but in the end, things might get rusty and will make the engine fail. Conversely, if you put too much grease on an engine, the engine will work, but after a while it will get dirty and no one will want to touch it anymore.
And it’s the same for Data Governance. If you don’t apply Data Governance in your organisation, your “data engine” might work for a short while but there’s a risk it will fail in the medium to long term. And if you apply too much Data Governance, your processes will become cumbersome and the organisation will create an aversion to data.
The rule of thumb for Data Governance (and for grease of course) is “just enough is good enough”.
So, where do you have to apply Data Governance on? As with applying grease, don’t take a big bang approach. Start small and ensure what you introduce is effective. First define the area you want to cover and get the right people on board. If you start too big, by the time you get the engine running, people will have left, forgotten the purpose, have other priorities and so on.
Yes! The biggest focus on Data Governance is on the people and not on the data.
So just how much Data Governance is required? My advice would be to use your common sense and be pragmatic.
Do you need to describe every single business term used in your organisation? Most probably not. Your business glossary doesn’t need to become another version of the Oxford English Dictionary. BUT if you have a business term used everywhere and they are slightly different depending on the context, you should get the business term defined, by describing the meaning for the overall organisation and clarifying the inconsistencies.
Do you need to involve your C-level in every data-decision-making process? Their busy agendas will probably slow down your process. BUT if you want to change something to the data which will affect the annual reporting, you should involve them for sure.
Do you need to define security policies for data which is publicly available anyway? I’m not sure you want to waste your energy on something that will never work anyway. BUT if you store sensitive information which are subject to GDPR, you cannot afford to leave a hole in your policy.
You may also want to consider where Data Governance will not help you. The most obvious case is when you simply don’t have a working Data Management solution.
Here is a real case example: If you have an IOT device measuring something every single second, but it only stores the data for 24 hours. If you don’t have a data process in place that captures the data, aggregates it and saves it on a data storage solution, you can define perfect policies and rules on how the data should be handled, it won’t bring any value at all.
Ideally, in this case, you set up a Data Management solution for the IOT device and apply the right amount of Data Governance to it from the start (aka Data Governance by design). Unfortunately, nowadays, the retroactive approach is the more common one. Referring back to the analogy of the grease, it’s like having the grease pot in our hand, looking at an engine and trying to find out where the noise is coming from…
So, are you ready to start your Data Governance journey? And are you looking for the right way to get started? If so, my advice would be to start the same way as if you were applying the afore-mentioned grease to an engine that needs it. First, start with your fingers and a towel, later start using a brush and in the end, when you know how things work, you can invest in a grease gun.
If you would like help with initiating Data Governance in your organisation, then reach out to one of our Data Governance experts and we’ll make sure your data engine gets the right amount of Data Governance applied!
Have inquiries? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org