How To Communicate Your Data Governance Message

Data Governance communications

The very nature of my job means that I get to write a lot of formal documents. These are I have to admit not the most scintillating read, in fact a Head of Compliance once told me that Data Governance documents are always so dry and boring (talk about people in glass houses and stones!) To be fair he did deliver this statement with a wry smile and he made a very valid point...

Part of my role, out of necessity, involves producing formal documents, for example Data Quality Policies and Data Governance Strategies. Indeed documentation is one of the three key areas that I focus on when designing and implementing Data Governance Frameworks. Formal documents are vital, but I have to find good ways of communicating the content of them. I don't believe that the documents I create are dry and boring. At least I expend a lot of effort making them accessible to the people they are aimed at! However this isn't always a simple task, so I thought I would share with you some tips on successfully communicating your data governance initiative:

Business Dress or Casual?

It's the same approach that many companies take to their employees "dressing down". That is you may wear casual clothes in the office, but if you have a meeting with clients, business dress is required. So in data governance terms this means use formal documents only when formal documents are required (sharing with regulators, Risk Committees etc.) and whenever it is appropriate use more casual/accessible formats. And look for different ways to share your message such as intranet sites, wikis, lunch time learning sessions, road shows. The opportunities are endless...


Data Governance is likely to be a new topic for your audience. Help them get their heads around the idea by using analogies, like... well like I have above.


Use multiple channels and methods to get your message out there. It's not going to stick and definitely not going to prompt a change in culture from just one delivery of the message, so make sure you repeat yourself...


Do not underestimate the importance of repeating your message!

Picture Perfect

I've said it before (and I'm sure that I will say it again) pictures are an extremely valuable tool in communicating your message. Ignore them at your peril.

Story Telling

Telling compelling tales is an excellent way of getting your message across. Data Quality horror stories experienced by your organisation and your industry really make people pay attention when you want to tell them how Data Governance can help.

Dylan Jones of covered this well in the excellent webinar he did for DAMA UK on Data Quality ROI earlier this year. Click here to hear a recording.

In Your Face

You can't beat face-to-face communications (with video conference or telephone as Plans B & C respectively if necessary). But don't send a document out and expect people to read it before meeting you. By all means send some carefully crafted slides ahead of your meeting, but allow enough time and be prepared to talk through the slides if they haven't (as a fair proportion won't have) read the slides in advance.

It's no good being passionate about your initiative if you never get to meet people to share that passion – being a Data Knight is definitely not a desk job, you've got to be out there meeting people and spreading your enthusiasm for Data Governance.

Got good tips to share?

I'm always looking for new ways to spread the message, so please share yours tips by commenting on this blog.


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