Although it may seem ideal to tackle all data issues at once, it’s far more effective to target specific assets to start. Implementing data governance in a targeted way sets a firm foundation for taking it across the enterprise.
For starters, it helps to avoid one of the biggest historical problems with data governance: lack of follow-through. By targeting an area of the organization, such as marketing, one can work with the underlying organisational structure to take action and ensure accountability. Information goals are clearly aligned with business strategy. The information architecture is clarified by taking inventory of the data assets – how they are managed and used as well as how they support the existing application architecture – and by evaluating and removing obstacles. Diverse stakeholders reach consensus and coordinate with one another. They find key data entities and critical data elements and develop information policies. This is far easier to do when targeting specific areas.
Consider, for example, the possibilities for data governance in customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives. It can greatly improve call center effectiveness and cut frustration due to lost or duplicate information, multiple mailings, or delivery to wrong addresses. In sales and marketing, data governance can improve sales by solving issues with multiple, inconsistent product catalogs and inaccurate customer demographics. In risk management, it can improve auditing and reporting, solve privacy concerns, and prevent fraud. In finance and accounting, it can ensure accurate, consistent billing and provide a consistent credit picture. These are just a few examples where success in one area will lead to success in others, and the organisation can reap immediate measurable benefits.
The first step is to objectively assess where business improvement can bring the most benefit to the organisation immediately, and establish a beachhead there. It’s critical that this assessment is objective, using an outside point of view. Work with an organization that has helped others successfully implement data governance. One that looks across the organisational silos, has a methodology for assessing data governance across the enterprise, and knows the key questions to ask to assess where to begin a data governance initiative. It should also understand the best data governance models, data governance and data quality processes, and ongoing organisational processes.
The demand to improve your business continues to increase as expectations change, new technologies emerge and competition grows. An effective way to establish continual improvement within your organisation is to conduct regular business process improvements (BPI).
Business processes can be informal or formal and touch a variety of company functions: information technology, employee development and training, customer service satisfaction, etc. Regardless of the process you are trying to enhance, the improvement procedure follows a similar path.
Analyse Current Process: Once you have decided which process you are going to improve you need analyze the current procedure. This way you can fully understand the process from A-Z and set realistic improvement objectives. Regardless of the tool you choose for analysis (process mapping, operational surveys, cause/effect analysis, etc.) you should consider the following questions:
- What in the process is broken?
- Which steps in the process create roadblocks?
- Which step requires the most time to complete?
- Which step causes the most delays?
- Are there any steps that cause costs/resources to go up?
- Are there any steps that cause quality to go down?
Create Improvement Strategy: With the process analysis phase completed you need to develop your strategy. It is recommended that you include what steps in the process are broken, why and how they should be improved and any financial and resource implications.
Answering how the process can be improved is a springboard to create your improvement objectives. It is recommended that you set realistic and measurable objectives that align with your overall strategic goals.