Data Governance Interview - Father Christmas

In my final blog post of the year, I have been extremely lucky to do a Data Governance interview with a very special person.  Known as Father Christmas to my English readers and Santa Claus to my international audience, this person is the personification of Christmas.   Although he may not be your “typical” Data Governance person, it does play a crucial part in the success of his endeavours. Read on to find out how…

http://www.123rf.com/profile_hasloo'>hasloo / 123RF Stock Photo</a

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

Well to be honest, it’s not what I consider my main role, but it has formed a vital part of my activities for as long as I can remember.

Some people view Data Governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

To be fair I probably didn’t give it any thought for the first few hundred years, but as the population and the traditions of Christmas grew, it became obvious that I had to do something about my record keeping, so that I could continue to deliver the excellent service that children around the world have come to expect. So when I started noticing mistakes about who was on the Naughty and Nice Lists, I knew we had to do something to manage our data better.

I suppose you must create a lot of data?

I certainly do, there’s the main records like childrens names, their location, their behavior records and also their taste in toys.  History is very important as well – I don’t want to give a child the same present this year as last!

In the early days that was all we focused on, but then we realized lots of things need good data.  For example maintenance records and flying hours for the sleigh.  One year we found out to our cost what happens if you don’t replace key mechanical parts before they wear out!

Location data is also key in planning the optimal route for Christmas Eve.  It used to keep a whole team of elves occupied all year updating and maintaining our geodata, but these days we source that data externally and that team have been able to return to their preferred toy making roles.

What characteristics do you have that make you successful at Data Governance and why?

Now that would have to be my perfectionism and need for everything to be delivered seamlessly, also to exceed my customers expectations every single time.  That makes me focus tirelessly on getting the data right so that everything happens just like magic on that one all important night of the year.

Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in Data Governance?

To be honest there wasn’t anything available as I was working out how to manage my data better!  I think the first article I ever saw online, that mentioned Data Governance, was a scientific study of penguins in Antarctica.  That was about 15 years ago and it was not really of interest to me as I’m based in the North Pole, not the South and had pretty much got Data Governance sussed by then!*

What was the biggest challenge you faced implementing Data Governance?

That would be getting the elves to engage in the process in the first place – they really didn’t get what data had to do with making and delivering toys!  It took me several attempts before I worked out that I had to explain Data Governance in terms of what it meant for them. 

So when I stopped talking about the need to manage our data better in vague terms and started talking about making sure that the rights toys were made and delivered on time, to the right children, it started making sense to them and the initiative really started to be accepted and make a difference. 

At that point it changed from mutterings about “he’s lost the plot” to elves clamoring to be Data Owners and Data Stewards – it was an amazing and heartwarming time!

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Don’t expect miracles, it is going to take a long time and be hard work but believe me, it will be worth it in the end!

 

So think on for next year and then yule know what miracles Data Governance can truly help you achieve.

Yo Ho Ho!

 

*Interviewers note – If you think Father Christmas is making this up, I can assure you that that scientific study does indeed exist, I recall it being the first mention of Data Governance that I too ever found online!

 

GDPR and Data Governance

With a number of my clients, I am finding that I am getting increasingly involved in their GDPR Projects as having a good Data Governance Framework helps you meet some of the requirements of GDPR.

GDPR impacts everyone who holds personal data so I thought I would ask Tejasvi Addagada to provide a useful overview of the subject:

 

It is imperative that the privacy needs of EU residents must be harnessed through GDPR by 25 May 2018. Moreover, GDPR necessitates coverage of private information that is processed by any organisation, across the globe. This means every organisation with global presence must embrace these privacy requirements. Regulatory landscape is fast evolving while also requiring firms with global operations to adopt the highest regulatory requirements from a region that can be leveraged as preparedness in other regions.

Privacy is not only a requirement from GDPR, but is also a major driver from an organisation’s perspective of risk. Most of the personal information collected for years now is vulnerable to threats and events of malicious theft, accidental disclosure, failure in appropriate design and usage. Today, protecting an organization’s reputation is the most significant risk management challenge. Negative publicity to a firm, will cause a decline in the customer base, reduce revenue and lead to costly litigation.

Privacy is not a new dimension that firms are planning to embrace suddenly. Most mature organisations have Information Privacy and Data Privacy clearly delineated and accounted for by stand-alone division in a firm. In my experience, I have seen Information privacy aligned with the Technology Risk function while Data privacy, as predictable, lies with Data Management and Governance. There are a couple of good articles that brief on the way forward for “Privacy as a dimension” within Data Management.

I was on a holiday this week, to Wayanad, a hill station in Kerala that boasts plush landscapes, streams and the native culture of the locals.  I booked the hotel on a travel app, which for sure has collected my personal information. This data has been shared with restaurants owned by the same group that gave me offers and requested feedback for every dining experience. Sadly, the hotel doesn’t have a travel desk, but using his contacts, the desk manager fixed our local travel arrangements. Further, the Government forest division that manages the tourist destinations collected my private data for accounting and safety, at 5 destinations. In a span of 3 days I know there is redundancy and various levels of data that is collected by various organisations. When I asked the hotel on the management of the private information they were not sure on any procedures that exist today. Further, most of the data exists still exists in paper.

Most financial organisations embracing data management and governance have, for some time now, integrated Data Privacy and Security as an integral dimension. Working with these firms, I can say that they are prepared for GDPR. There is a Governance function that directs, monitors and evaluates while also enforcing accountabilities through ownership and data stewardship and ownership. On the other hand, a percentage of other organisations have some level of privacy management capabilities customised in the form of projects, for specific needs.

GDPR stress on the responsibilities, accountabilities, and evidencing the controls for privacy.

Here are ten simple steps to get started –

1)    A current capability analysis must be performed to understand the people, process and technology capabilities in place to collect, process, manage privacy and security controls for Personally identifiable information of customers and employees. This will be much easier if data privacy management is already an integral dimension, embraced by a Chief Data Office.

2)    The firm must draft a data privacy policy to ensure enforcement of compliance with mandatory regulatory, internal compliance, best practices, legal and ethical requirements along with the need for managing risks. These aspects must be clearly embedded into the privacy policy to provide guidance to personnel. This assists the personnel in carrying out any activity that includes private and confidential information. It is suggestable to understand the needs for privacy and options to achieve privacy management, before embarking on a full-scale implementation. Data Management Strategy must be developed to include Data Privacy management aspects leveraging current capabilities assessment. Data Management Strategy and Privacy Management must be aligned with organisational objectives. In addition, the target control environment and organisational structure for Data Privacy and Security Management must be defined including the identification of a privacy officer etc.

3)    From the current capability analysis, understand the “Direct Client identifying” and “Indirect client identifying” data that is collected and processed by the firm. There is a difference between a privacy and security classification. If the firm doesn’t have classifications available it needs to engage with the risk function to baseline the levels of allowable privacy classifications. Based on the same the council and data stewards can enable the data owners to classify the data that they own.

4)    It is much easier to manage the data if it is logically classified into domains based on its business characteristics like the customer domain. Likewise, employee personal data can also be classified under a human resources domain. Further, based on current need, a dataset or a sub domain can be classified as customer preferences that would make it much easier to manage data related to customer consensus like opt-in/opt-out.

5)    Through Governance function, the chief data office ensures that ownership of data is aligned, data owners are accountable, stewards are made responsible for enforcement of activities related to privacy management. Further, these roles would be updated in the data glossaries and dictionaries through Metadata management. Once data ownership is enabled the existing privacy classifications for customer and the employee data can be actively managed. This also sets the context for the data owner in capturing entitlements (control requirements) across the data lifecycle. From a risk perspective, these activities play a key role in strengthening the 1st line of defence in the firm.

6)    Based on the plan for implementation of controls for data privacy, projects must be sponsored and roadmaps must be put forth, perhaps timeboxed to meet regulatory timelines. Once the controls are in place, their existence along with KCIs, KRIs need to be captured as Metadata in a glossary. This strengthens the evidencing aspect of the regulation. Further, the control indicators and risk indicators must be aggregated as scorecards for reporting to board regulators.

7)    The firm must embrace “Privacy by design” mainstream by having to operationalise policy in every change (projects). This ensures that every new capability or change to existing process, system or organisation structure is assessed for privacy impact, controls and best practices ensured and recorded.

8)  Data privacy management must ensure that all privately classified data elements are classified, recorded for entitlements, security controls for privacy included Eg: deanonymisation, masking based on context, encryption, transfer contracts to name a few. Entitlements and controls must be recorded as Metadata in glossaries.

9)   The controls for securing private data, are established at a data service level wherever applicable rather than at an application level. The divisional and governance forums ensure that the guidelines for data controls are placed for new changes and changes to existing capabilities. Once the Privacy Impact Assessments are performed, the gaps are analysed and a program focusing on establishing a control environment for such data domains is commissioned in line with the funding model. Any non-adherence to establish controls should be signed off by the governance council with adequate evidence to bypass the controls. The level of controls includes administrative (process), technical and physical controls to secure Private data.

10) Data Privacy cannot function alone and would require close integration with other dimensions including Metadata, Data Quality, lifecycle and risk management.

a.    Metadata management is a major enabler to classify data into domains and assign privacy classifications.

b.    The data quality function ensures that integrity of data is maintained while data privacy and security ensures that modification is being performed by designated roles. Further, the currency and accuracy of personally identifiable information must be ensured.

c.     Data Lifecycle management simplifies the data landscape allowing the firm to understand - Which system or personnel or process collects a data element like tax number? Where else does tax number flow in its processing? Where is it stored, transformed, decayed? Which process or personnel or system applies tax number and for which purpose?

d.    The Data risk management ensures adherence to regulatory needs including privacy assessments, risk scoring, control assessments, risk event or privacy incident reporting and escalation. It also ensures that there are policy self-assessments and identification of blanket in-flight risks along with risk evaluation and response.

Having read this article with Tejasvi you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

Tejasvi Addagada is a Data Management and Governance consultant with nine years of success in assisting clients, develop and optimize data governance solutions. Tejasvi has worked with the top ten major global financial service providers by providing a wide range of services including strategy analysis, data analysis & architecting, service rationalization, digital transformation and process excellence. Tejasvi has diverse experience in the areas of consumer banking, commercial banking and capital markets. He has served as a process and domain consultant for the top ten major banks while receiving several accolades for the success achieved.

Now, he is delivering his services to a major investment management firm as a principal data consultant in the Data Governance Office. Before this stint, he has worked with two major banks in setting up and orchestrating data governance services from grass roots.

Tejasvi is an avid thought leader in the industry. He likes to connect with other thought leaders while blogging on the technological and business advances. His write ups address common challenges and opportunities that the firms need to tackle to make their way forward in the industry. Apart from that, he is an abstract painter and an art enthusiast and likes to spend time with family.

Tejasvi can be reached at Tejasvichand@gmail.com

ata Governance Interview - Mark Horseman

Mark is an IT professional with nearly 20 years’ experience.  Mark moved into Data Quality, Master Data Management, and Data Governance early in his career and has been working extensively in BI since 2005.  Mark currently leads a team of IT professionals architecting a Data Warehouse at Vecima Networks.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

I’ve been working in Data Governance off-and-on since 2007/08, but have been working with Data Quality since 2004/05.

How did you start working in Data Governance?

I started my IT Career in Sales in the 90’s, achieved a B.Sc in Computer Science and moved to programming.  During my internship, I worked on an Identity Management System for the University of Saskatchewan.  As part of that work, a lot of my programming was dealing with data associated with Students, Staff, and Faculty.

From that experience, I had moved on to Student Information Systems, and worked on integrating data from our Identity Management solution to our purchased Student system.  (“SCT Banner” at that time, now known as “Ellucian”)

After that integration, we worked on a Business Intelligence solution, and I became keenly aware of issues in Data Quality (2004/05 time frame) and how Data Quality impacted the understanding of the operations of the institution.

From there I moved on to Institutional Research, and began getting into data definitions and understanding data stewardship, ownership, and governance, although no one called it “Data Governance”.  I had begun reading as much content as I could, and kicked off my own blog as a method to reach out to the really talented people in the field.  This is where I ran into “The Data Governance Institute” (http://www.datagovernance.com/), books by Jill Dyché, and Jim Harris’s “OCDQ” blog.

What were your initial thoughts when you first fully understood what you had got into?

I had an epiphany that I landed on something that sounded a bit like IT, but wasn’t really an IT problem or process at all.  It was something that required outreach and awareness that data is an asset and that stakeholders needed processes to ensure that the data asset was a value to the institution.

Are there any particular resources that you found useful support when you were starting out?

Besides the excellent things mentioned above, the sheer brilliance and content available on Twitter.  There are a lot of really talented people out there providing thought provoking content absolutely free!

What is the biggest Data Governance challenge you have faced so far?

The word “Data Governance” is the biggest challenge to its implementation.  In the places I’ve gone to talk about Data Governance, that’s the comment I hear.  This could be a Saskatchewan / Canadian culture thing, but it’s as though the term “Governance” implies a level of bureaucracy that people find intimidating.  I find that processes around data management require a packaging that doesn’t include the term to achieve acceptance.

What have you implemented or solved so far that you are particularly proud of?

Back in my Higher Education days, I had implemented the “Data Quality Golf-Card”.  We had used the Kimball idea of Data Quality Screens (think panning for gold).  Using these Quality Tests, we had assigned a value to each time when data failed to pass through the screen.

Each screen was associated with a particular stakeholder and we met regularly to try and get their score down to “Par”.

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Work hard at understanding the culture and what types of processes will be a good fit.  If there are vestiges of process in-place, work with it to implement Data Governance.

Finally, what do you wish you had known or done differently when you were just starting out in Data Governance?

I wish I had started sooner.  BI without Data Governance was more challenging than it needed to be.

Having read my interview with Mark you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

Data Governance interview - Nigel Turner

Nigel Turner

Nigel has worked in data management for over 25 years.   He spent much of his career at British Telecommunications (BT) where he led a series of company wide data improvement projects which brought huge benefits to BT.  Also in BT, he created and ran large Information Management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) consultancy and delivery practices.  After leaving the company in 2010 Nigel has since been a data consultant with several organisations including Trillium Software and FromHereOn (aka Enterprise Architects).  Currently he is Principal Information Management consultant EMEA for Global Data Strategy.  He has been an active member of the Data Management Association (DAMA) for many years and is currently Vice-Chair of the DAMA UK chapter.  

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

At least 20 years, probably before the term Data Governance was even coined and popularised.  Although we did not have a name for it at that time, Data Governance became an issue in BT in the 1990s. When running data improvement projects it became obvious that a lack of business leadership and accountability for data was a major cause of the data quality problems we uncovered, and a significant barrier to fixing them.  So we placed a big emphasis on getting business people interested and actively involved, and they eventually led the improvement projects.  In practice they acted as de facto data owners and data stewards, even if we didn’t call them that at the time. 

Some people view Data Governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

Like many people, purely by accident.  Until the 1990s I had a pretty bog standard IT career, progressing from a programmer to business analyst, then onto team leadership and project management.  Then I ran a project to investigate and remedy outstanding software faults on BT’s biggest customer service system at that time.  Its achievements were brought to the attention of a BT board member, the Director of Strategy.  She met me and said ‘I want you to lead some work I have started on how we can improve our overall management of data’.  Saying no was not a good career option, so that’s how I got into data as a focus in its own right.  From there, data quality and data governance eventually became an abiding interest and passion.

What characteristics do you have that make you successful at Data Governance and why?

I suppose it’s for others to judge my success (or otherwise) but I feel I’ve been helped by a couple of things.  First, I am not, and never have been, a technology geek, despite my many years in IT.  So my natural instinct is to start any data challenge not with technology, but by a focus on business and its people.   Nowhere is this more important than Data Governance where 80% of success depends on getting people to think differently about data, and in creating a direct link between Data Governance and what the business is trying to achieve.  Technology has an important part to play in delivering Data Governance, but is always an enabler, never a starting point. 

Second, a sense of humour definitely helps. All of us who have tried to sell the benefits of Data Governance have at some point been met with scepticism, indifference, incomprehension or downright hostility.  The ability to try to overcome this with a smile and a lighthearted quip, coupled with an underlying determination to win people over, has definitely helped.  It doesn’t always work, but it often can.   

Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in Data Governance?

I always found inspiration in the early pioneers of data quality and Data Governance, Tom Redman and Larry English.  Between them they have published several books and are the founding fathers of the discipline.  It’s also worth looking at the Data Management Association (DAMA) Body of Knowledge (DMBOK) which has a useful section on Data Governance.  Moreover in DAMA UK we are running a very successful mentoring scheme, where grizzled Data Governance people (such as myself) help and advise less experienced people.  This is proving to be a great success.      

What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in a Data Governance implementation?

It has to be my time in BT.  When I started, as is the case today, BT was a large and very complex global organisation with vast volumes and varieties of data, held on multiple platforms and systems.  When embarking on the Data Governance journey the hardest part was not working out what the finishing line would look like, but where to start.  So I spent the first few months in my role trying to work out the first steps.  Eventually I connected with some enthusiastic business and IT people in BT’s Wholesale division, and helped them launch some pilot data improvement projects.  They were a great success, with large business benefits, and it was a lot easier from there.  The primary lesson?  In Data Governance it’s important to show real returns early to secure and sustain support, so find a known data problem area, and start tackling real problems.

Is there a company or industry you would particularly like to help implement Data Governance for and why?

This is a tricky one.  Since leaving BT I have talked and worked with over 150 organisations on their data and Data Governance challenges.   They include both the public and private sectors, pretty much every industry vertical (including Retail, Energy, Utilities, Transport, Banking, Professional Services and so on), and span across many countries. 

What’s struck me is that whereas all appear very different and have widely varying drivers and business models, the challenges they face are remarkably similar.  With Governance, they consistently centre on getting senior executive support and buy in, building the business case, winning business and IT hearts and minds, creating realistic & deliverable action roadmaps, and proving the projected benefits. So, to answer the question, I’d like to help all of them!

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

In Data Governance, influencing skills are critical.  In many organisations, managing data inefficiently is business as usual.  And it’s been done that way for so long, it often feels like you are trying to move the moon with a drinking straw.  So plan your strategy for how to kick start the cultural and behavioral change needed.  Identify the early key stakeholders and get to understand their business and what drives them.  Use this to prepare your influencing strategies before you engage with them, and relate Data Governance directly to their concerns and aspirations.  

One final piece of advice.  When you are dealing with busy people with many urgent and often competing priorities, don’t ask too much of them, especially in your early encounters.  Ease them in to the Governance world through simple and incremental steps.   You’ll frighten them off if you ask for the world.

Finally I wondered if you could share a memorable data governance experience (either humorous or challenging)?

One that always sticks in my mind is an early workshop I ran with some business people in BT.  To prove the need for Governance we profiled their key data sources and produced lots of hard evidence of data issues and problems.  Most attendees found the results surprising, and sometimes shocking, and so were quickly receptive to listen to our proposal for improving its quality and management.  But one attendee was adamant that ‘our tool must be wrong’ and refused to accept the findings.  He stormed out and told us ‘he would prove it’.  Thirty minutes later he came back to the workshop, sat down and sheepishly told us that our results were indeed accurate; he’d checked the source system!  He quickly learned that the real state of data is often at odds with people’s perceptions.   From that point, he became an enthusiastic proponent of Data Governance.   

Nothing counters negativity like facts.  As the former UK Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, ‘To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge’.  In Data Governance, as in life, this is invariably true.

Having read my interview with Nigel you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

What is the Future of Data Governance for the Financial Services Sector?

Financial Services Data Governance

In the past few years, the Financial Services Sector has been working to comply with a range of regulations that have called for Data Governance to be embedded in their business, including the likes of Solvency II and BCBS 239. 

Many companies are probably relaxing a little as dates for these regulations have now passed or are imminent.  But what is next?  Can Financial Service companies stop focusing on data and data governance?

I’m known as The Data Governance Coach, the person who promotes the benefits of Data Governance to everyone, so obviously you’d expect me to say no, of course, they cannot, or should not abandon data governance. 

But let’s be clear, the reason I say no, is not based on an evangelistic stance of managing data for the greater good.   Firstly meeting the existing regulatory requirements was not a one-off project.  They require an ongoing commitment to manage and protect the quality of your data going forwards. In addition, there are a number of new regulatory requirements and changes coming in the sector that will lead to an increased focus on data.

This is certainly not the time to stop managing your data proactively.

The new regulations may not spell out that "Data Governance” is needed but if you have implemented Data Governance properly, your Data Governance Framework should sit at the centre of all your data activities now, ensuring that everything is aligned with both each other and the corporate strategy of your company.

So let’s look briefly at a few of the themes that are going to impact the Financial Services Sector over the next few years:

GDPR

No blog on this topic would be complete without mentioning GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in May 2018.  That may sound a long way off, but the requirements to manage personal data are likely to require a significant change in how you manage your data.

I have found that the Data Protection Officers at my clients are very pleased that I am helping mature their Data Governance approach, as some of the GDPR requirements have a direct link to Data Governance.  For example, you need to prove data accuracy, data integrity and in order to enact the right to be forgotten (i.e. data erasure) you need to know what data is stored where on your systems and where better to hold that than in a Data Glossary?  Improving your Data Governance Framework leaves you in a better place to meet these GDPR requirements.

 

Digital Transformation

This term is much used of late and sometimes not understood.  According to Wikipedia, it relates to “the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society”. 

I’ve worked in Financial Services for the majority of my career and I believe that the appropriate use of technology has the potential to transform the sector, as long as our data is good enough to support it…

Digital transformation is going to rely on the technology being able to find the right and consistent data.  If you are not confident that your data is well defined, understood and of good quality, then you need to mature your Data Governance approach before you embrace these technologies, or you may not get the results you were expecting.

 

Operating Model Programmes

Operational Excellence and Target Operating Model Programmes are prevalent in the industry at present.  However, not all are getting the expected results and that maybe because they have not focused on data.  

Companies in the know, are including a data workstream in such programmes. New systems and streamlined processes are unlikely to achieve the desired efficiencies if sub-standard or missing data is ignored.  Indeed in one instance I was told about, it was discovered that many of the manual and time consuming processes they were trying to streamline had arisen because of data issues.

It should be a fundamental part of such programmes to identify what data is needed where and of what quality in order to run your business better.

So in summary, now is the time to evolve and embed your Data Governance Framework to ensure that you can meet new regulatory requirements and get the results you expect from big change initiatives. Build on what you have delivered to date and extend it to other data in your organisation.  Maturing your Data Governance capability will leave you not only able to comply with regulatory requirements but in a great position to support your company as it embraces the digital advance.

My free report reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

If you want to hear more about digital transformation in the sector, how organisations are improving their competitiveness using data, the implications of new regulations and compliance, join Dell EMC at their upcoming Momentum Europe event in Barcelona on Monday. Alternatively, follow the #MMTM16 hashtag for live updates from the event!

Data Governance Interview - Shamma Raghib

Shamma M. Raghib is a Solutions Expert in Data Governance at Collibra. She is driving Data Governance initiatives across the EMEA region. Apart from working at Collibra, Shamma is also a Business Data Scientist, an advocate for women in technology and often works closely with local technology startups to enable high potentials.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

I have been working in Data Governance since 2015.

Some people view Data Governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

Back then, I had little understanding of the term “Data Governance”. In the software out there, most of them provide a very technical solution and ‘governance’ is just a very small part of it.  Collibra approached me to work in this relatively unusual work field and I insisted on a short description of how the software works to address data governance initiatives.

After talking to my future colleagues, I was convinced that there is a high market need for data governance experts and the market needs a very comprehensive enterprise to do that with partners and experts to enable that.  I was convinced that any data driven enterprise needs a collaborative platform that enables data producers and consumers.  I personally believe that Collibra provides that solution.

What characteristics do you have that make you successful at Data Governance and why?

Data Governance is not about me as an individual, however for data driven organizations, to make Data Governance successful, it should be a very collaborative, co-operative initiative as a whole. I try to focus on that. 

For low maturity data governance programs, the first step I ask them to take is to identify the key stakeholders who will drive the program, take ownership and responsibility, and govern rules. Initially there are few things that the council should focus on – the rules that the program is creating (whether regulatory/policy/accountability etc.) and the engagement between the stakeholders. The next step is the process that the people need to follow in order to manage the data, cost, complexity, quality while ensuring compliance.

To make these initiatives successful, not only you need a buy-in from key stakeholders, with a vision and an end-goal, directive but you would also need to provide for successful change management. Over time, data governance should facilitate their work, provide trusted source(s) of data and enable them to keep making data value driven growth and change programmes in the organizations.

My approach to data governance initiatives is to identify what are the exact pain points that the customer want to solve and what is the immediate need. Then we can work from a top down approach or a bottom up approach depending on the needs. An assessment can be conducted to ensure long term sustainability of the proposed data governance structure.

Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in Data Governance?

The DAMA Guide to Data Management is a good base for understanding your key requirements on Data Governance. There are also other DGI frameworks you can look into.  Moreover, compass.collibra.com is a good place to start searching for your operating model (to identify your key stakeholders, collaboration approaches, data / asset types, integration requirements etc.).

What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in a Data Governance implementation?

The biggest challenge I have faced is not external, it internal to the customer's organization.

Helping people to understand why a data governance program needs to be in place is the toughest job to do and can only be managed by leaders maintaining the expectations and enabling the work of the stakeholders. Apart from a tool that enables this, every data stakeholder should be able to see the short term and long term benefits. I try to focus on this while working with clients.

Messaging and managing expectations should be clear and change management should be done in phases to get people to understand that governance is not equal to control. The challenge is more to make them understand that data governance is more planning, managing, monitoring and enforcing data management by the people and processes in the organization.

Is there a company or industry you would particularly like to help implement Data Governance for and why?

I have always been a key supporter in enabling and helping the healthcare industry – especially around data governance.  Because of the fast paced, high-growth system and data turnover of this industry, data management and governance of patient data is crucial to ensure patient data is maintained with a certain trusted standard and information source.

Currently the healthcare industries use varying degrees of data requirements and regulations around this are quite strict. At times, it can be difficult to find information as a doctor or nurse. Examples could be as simple as “What is the chemical name of medicinal product code mentioned in a patient report?” or it could be something challenging such as “When should I upgrade the system?”, “Where can I find information about a new system/ technology?” and so on.

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Part of my background is in Business Process Management, which is a small component of data governance. For me it is key to get stakeholder buy-in before jumping into an initiative.

It is also key to maintain messaging around it and to realize that a tool should be in place to facilitate data governance initiatives and not to replace the existing landscape completely. The coordinated decisions made by Business and IT need to be there as a data authority that understands the needs of both sides.

Finally, I wondered if you could share a memorable data governance experience (either humorous or challenging)?

I found it funny that in one of my product demonstrations, the lady on the other side asked me, “How would you describe data governance to a ten year old?”. I was a bit taken aback but I gave an answer which, in hindsight was not the best but it seemed to satisfy her query. I said, “Data Governance: when you are trying to look for a how-to-play guide for your new PS3 game, where do you look for it? Inside the help book or help section in the game. The fact that it is a rule in game companies that every game should have a guidebook or a help section, is due to a data authority performing data governance.”

Having read my interview with Shamma you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

Data Governance Interview - Nick Keen

I'm really pleased that Nick agreed to be interviewed for this blog.  I met him at a recent joint DAMA UK, BCS DMSG event.  After hearing him present passionately on Data Governance, I just had to ask him to do this interview!

Nick is the Data Governance lead at the Environment Agency working internally across the entire organisation covering anything from flooding, fisheries environmental crime to facilities management. Nick assesses how well the Environment Agency looks after its data and helps put in place actions to improve and reduce the risk from poor data governance. Without this strong foundation, Open Data would be incredibly difficult.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

Since December 2011 so coming on for 5 years.

How did you start working in Data Governance?

I saw a job advertisement in a team headed up a former colleague (now my boss) in the Environmental Crime world (investigating it, not causing it!).  Knowing how enthusiastic she was about the work she was doing, and having had similar career paths I thought it sounded like an ideal move. I went for the job, managed to persuade the interviewers I was the right person and here I am.

What where your initial thoughts when you first fully understood what you had got into?

Have I made the right move? Am I doing the right thing? What do all these technical terms mean? How am I supposed to do this?

Luckily there were a lot of the relationships and tools in place thanks to the work Lisa had done.

Are there any particular resources that you found useful support when you were starting out?

Without sounding like I want a pay increase – my boss and the team around me.  They are always there to guide me, offer advice and importantly suggest different ways to tackle a problem.  Many of the teams we work with have tremendous data knowledge – working with them, and listening to their knowledge and experience has helped loads.

There is a lot of well-intentioned advice out there but in particular the DAMA resources are really useful.

What is the biggest Data Governance challenge you have faced so far?

The biggest challenge is also the biggest positive aspect – People.  It can be difficult to engage with some when you mention the word data – let alone governance. But once you can talk in the right language and they see the value of data, the job becomes so much easier.

What have you implemented or solved so far that you are particularly proud of?

Helping develop and work with the business to complete data maturity assessments.  These are accepted as part of business as usual to help identify areas we can work on together to improve our data.

The results are used by the Board to help reduce and manage corporate risk.

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Don’t force your opinions on people – work with them and show them the value of data but do it in their language.  (Ok that’s two but we’re not doing a data quality check…are we?)

Finally, what do you wish you had known or done differently when you were just starting out in Data Governance?

Not tried to use the big stick!  It’s so much easier to use the carrot and take people along on the journey with you.  If you can talk in their language (don’t always use the G word!) it becomes real and they can see the benefit.  I remember one senior manager said to me that I don’t understand what you mean. Three things helped me turn that around 

(i)                I mentioned a spreadsheet I knew his team managed.  It helped prove the work they do and what they achieve.  Oh – and that they use data

(ii)              I then said how important it was to have the right data. Oh – that’s data quality

(iii)            Lastly, I said how someone else wanted to take it away from them. The reply was but that’s mine…And there we have it, I had an owner!

Having read my interview with Nick you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report

 

Soft Skills are Vital for Data Governance Success

Data Governance Soft Skills

Since 2003 I have been helping individuals and organisations implement Data Governance and since 2011 I’ve been running training courses on Data Governance.  One of the interesting things that I have noticed is that most people think data governance is a technical or analytical subject, but in reality the majority of Data Governance activities are undertaken by business users. I have discovered the most successful Data Governance schemes are run as change management initiatives, led and supported by individuals with well developed soft skills. 

Passion, enthusiasm and the ability to motivate others towards achievement of a goal, whether in Data Governance or any major change programme, will stack the odds of success in your favour.  To some of you reading this, Data Governance may seem a strange thing to be passionate about, but consider this:

If you’re not buying it, they’re not buying it!

And that means bad news for everyone.

Being a strong communicator is also a huge asset. You will need to convince people on a large scale, and influence them individually when proposing new approaches to governing their data. As with any change there will be resistance and having the soft skills to deal with that resistance positively definitely works to your advantage.  

If you are currently working on a Data Governance initiative and feel that communication skills are not your strong suit, don’t worry – they can be learned through training, coaching and of course practice!

On my standard one day course there is a section entirely devoted to the soft skills you need to be successful at Data Governance.  The day is also full of group exercises and discussions to help attendees practice sharing their passion for the subject. 

The format of the course has proved very successful and although I have received repeated requests to make my course available online, I have always worried whether it would work as well in that format.  However, I also have to acknowledge that taking a day out of the office and travelling to attend a course is just not possible for some people.  I advocate using a pragmatic approach when implementing Data Governance and decided to apply that approach to the delivery of my training courses as well.  I still feel that being able to interact with and support the participants would be key so I have created an online course with different levels of support available.

Feedback from a pilot of the online course has been so positive that I am very pleased to announce the launch of my online course.  To find out more details click here.

And whatever stage you currently are in your Data Governance journey don’t forget that spending some time focussing on your soft skills will make a significant contribution to the success of your initiative.

My free report reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report