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How to Secure Management’s Support for Data Governance

Business experience is necessary
Data governance management buy-in
Securing management buy-in for your data governance program can be a difficult task.

Getting management to understand the benefits of good Data Governance can be tough, but until your CFO and CDO start seeing eye to eye, your business and your customers will continue losing out

Luckily, securing buy-in for your Data Governance goals doesn’t have to be a struggle. To prove it, let’s break the process down into six simple steps.

Step One: Align your Data Governance Program with Business Values

Business data alignment
Align your data governance program with strategic business objectives and long term corporate strategy.

Start by aligning your Data Governance policy with corporate strategy. Too many Chief Data Officers get caught up pitching Data Governance as a way to improve technical capacity, forgetting that for management, it’s the bottom line that really counts. 

If you want to win over corporate, you’ll need to speak their language. That means selling Data Governance as a business benefit rather than just another time-consuming chore

According to McKinsey, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. 

What’s more, good Data Governance can see an average of 69% less time spent locating data and reports, 28% lower frequency of data-related errors, and 23% higher gross productivity. All that time saved sifting through dirty data translates into some seriously impressive ROI, as much as 500% in fact

This ‘corporate benefits’ mindset should always be kept at the forefront of your Data Governance program.

READ MORE: Data Strategy FAQ – 28 Answers you Need to Succeed

Step Two: Understand your Business’ Specific Goals

Shifting over to a business mindset is a great first step, but to really win over management you’ll need a more concrete vision.  Once you’ve got yourself thinking in terms of dollars and cents it’s time to start visualising how data can be used to advance your company’s specific business goals.

Begin by pinpointing your organisation’s business-critical objectives. Ask yourself how your data will improve the company’s products or services, as well as how it might improve internal workflows.

If you can show exactly what your business needs to accomplish and demonstrate precisely how data can be leveraged to achieve those goals, you’ll be well on your way to securing corporate buy-in. 

Data strategy

Step Three: Take Stock of your Existing Data

Once you’ve identified your concrete business goals, it’s time to see if your existing data is up to the task of providing solutions. This is all about developing an accurate picture of your data.

Start by defining your Critical Data Elements (CDEs) and getting them signed off by management. CDEs are those all-important data points that the business really cares about—in other words, the data that directly applies to your business goals and regulatory responsibilities.

Critical data element flowchart

One particularly useful way to identify your business’ CDEs is by mapping out a typical customer journey. Define the data touchpoints between your customers and your internal teams, then determine which data elements are mission-critical for delivering either excellent customer service or reporting on customer health and revenue. These are your CDE’s.

Next, map out the departments, people, and processes responsible for your data. Ask yourself:

  • Where data is being stored and how is it accessed? 
  • Is all of your data being put to good use, or could some of it be decommissioned to reduce risk?
  • Can your data be repurposed to drive incremental revenue streams for the business?
  • Is everyone being put to good use, or is valuable talent being wasted?
  • Is crucial data being catalogued and communicated effectively, or is it getting bottlenecked and siloed?
  • Is everyone working on problems that benefit the bottom line, or are you getting hung up on building capability for its own sake?

Read More: Data Maturity Issues and How to Solve Them

Once you’ve got a clear picture of your company’s data processes, it’s time to evaluate the quality of your data itself. Run a data audit to determine if you have all of the information you’ll need to tackle your business objectives. Look for any gaps or Data Quality issues that need solving—and remember, every issue you uncover is a potential solution in the making.

The goal here is to be able to concretely show how better data can improve the business, as well as to spotlight how dark data and idle assets can be put to work. 

Step Four: Establish KPIs

Data management kpis
KPIs help measure the success and growth of a data governance program.

Once you’ve pinpointed which business goals you’ll be targeting and taken stock of your existing data, you’ll be ready to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for your Data Governance program. KPIs are essential for both measuring progress and demonstrating accountability to management.

Remember to tie your KPIs directly into corporate strategy. They should benchmark not only the growth of your Data Governance program but reflect the concrete business benefits of governance as well.

You’ll want to be especially mindful while mapping out your KPIs. Be realistic, and remember that big changes take time. 

Step Five: Make Business a Stakeholder

This next step is often trickier than it sounds. Even if you manage to kick-off your Data Governance program, you’ll never be able to secure long term engagement or stick to your KPIs unless you make the business a key stakeholder in the process.

Finding yourself an executive sponsor can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. 

Do your best to arrange a face to face conversation and excite your sponsor-to-be with the benefits of good Data Governance. Explain how the program will lead to improved customer experiences and stronger customer relationships by streamlining key interactions. If your pitch is aligned with corporate strategy and you remember to keep your organisation’s business objectives front and center, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Of course, winning over a sponsor is just the beginning. 

To keep business management motivated, you’ll need to give them an active stake in the program. That means assigning them roles and responsibilities that will keep them practically engaged and committed to the long-term success of your new Data Governance policy.

Step Six: Winning A Minor Victory

Quick wins for the CDO
Demonstrate the business benefits of good data governance by winning a quick victory.

At the end of the day, the quickest way to win buy-in for Data Governance is to score a minor victory. This is all about showing management that Data Governance will make or save them money.

Just what a minor victory looks like will vary company by company and case by case, but a good place to start is by combing through negative customer reviews to identify a specific business process being hampered by bad data.

Demonstrate the impact of poor data on the broken process and you’ll already be able make a strong case for improvement. Better yet, determine which data elements you can use to patch up the broken process and get cracking with a fix. 

By salvaging a broken process you’ll have made a measurable impact on the bottom-line. 

Now that’s what we call a quick victory.

Still have questions about winning management buy-in for your Data Governance dream? Not sure if your organisation is even ready for Data Governance in the first place? Cognopia is here to help.

With free Data Maturity assessments and a range of bespoke consulting services, Cognopia’s team of Data Governance experts will help you craft a bulletproof Data Strategy unique to your organisation’s needs.

Schedule a chat here and find out what Cognopia can do for you. 

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