Thought Leadership

Data Governance: Best Practices

Governing the data of an organization and putting it to work for the business is one of the most interesting challenges of the last years and will continue to be for at least three more.

As we all know, there are major obstacles that affect the success of a data strategy, ranging from cultural challenges within the company, to political and organizational issues that can lead to resistance to the necessary changes. That's why we have developed best practices based on the experience we have accumulated with our clients. The objective is to collaborate with all those who are evaluating to implement actions that optimize their business, avoiding being left behind in this race of digitalizing business models.

Define your strategy

There is no value in doing something just for the sake of doing it. Your plan should be concrete enough that solves specific issues, or propose new ways of doing things with clear and measurable goals.

Although having a data strategy brings tremendous long-term benefits to an organization, in some cases the impact may not be visible immediately. Under this scenario, and with a repetitive pattern of conservative decision makers within the organizations / brands, it is difficult to advance a strategic data program. These factors often end up blocking the financing of initial projects´ costs.  

For those who manage a company´s data, which should be considered one of the most important assets of any organization, their primary responsibility is to ensure an effective control and use of the information, and since the absence of data is a commercial risk, its erroneous management should be quantified.

Today, the best data managers are in the market, so stay away from trying to train staff whose current focus on the company is different. Take the time to identify and build a team of data managers that will clearly include experts from all business areas, but under a specialized direction. Please note that this structure can be either complemented or directly developed by companies that provides these services.

Get support from the board

If you are a part of a large organization, study interest groups that are useful for the strategic program, and align your department´s needs with the needs of key business partners who have strong influence on the organization and great decision-making power. With them as strategic allies, the fundamental changes to be made will be more likely to become a successful reality.

Data Governance involves significant changes in the behavior of a company's staff and culture. The development and enhancement of the projects requires both the necessary funds and appropriate technology. Without the commitment and support from the C-Suite, nothing will really happen.

Set a measurable criteria

When setting goals, be sure to make a good mix between those tactical goals and the strategic objectives. The goals will contribute to the achievement of more core objectives and the tactics will likewise contribute to the progress of that strategy.

The tactics will logically have an impact in the short term. This will help you add small triumphs to your program, gain feedback, maintain commitment and, above all, support board or executive level support. All measures to be taken should be determined at the beginning of the program, which is why focusing on quantitative metrics will be your best option. These will provide some support that will facilitate the achievement of the macro objective of the project.

Automating reports to track the progress of the plan and control its KPIs will be a key issue once the program has started. It is also vital that you have clear and real information about the scenario prior to the start of the project, so that it has a point of comparison and can demonstrate improvements. In addition, it will be important to keep a record of the processes and decisions that were taken to understand the impact of the processes.

Start small

It’s key to think holistically, now without doubt, the best choice is to start immediately and do it from small projects. We know that moving through the implementation and development of a data strategy is a very complex and arduous process, however, it is obviously a necessary step for the brands.

As we know, it will always be better to anticipate future pressure scenarios that will end up complicating everything even further. To be concrete and exemplary, if you are in a global organization it could happen that you are forced to do it at the least suitable time for you, or if you are in a medium company the worst scenario will be that your entire competition is already limiting your competitiveness because they have implemented a data strategy.

Both the members of your company, the culture installed in it, and even the technologies available will be involved in the processes of data managing. If you don´t begin intelligently and from the bottom up, you will never get results. Only once you have begun, will gradually mature your policies and the impact will begin to be visible. If you manage to balance your company's strategic commitments with the tactics you need, you will be making sure the overall program moves in the desired direction.

Create and quantify cases

The construction of business cases serves to articulate and highlight the quantifiable benefits of the strategy, thus sustaining the internal commitment to support the program.

There is a difference of opinion as to whether a special position should be established to deal with the generation of cases within global organizations. In any case, usually the agency itself or who provides these services will do it for you.

It will be necessary, depending on the stage you when will defining who will be in charge of studying and developing the cases. Since it is suggested to associate these responsibilities with a figure that should have prudent time to develop cases of success.

It’s key to identify opportunities through quality data to generate or optimize the company's revenues. Usually, we could speak of time reductions by automating processes, generation of new businesses by use of intelligent information obtained by an adequate management of the data, or even the most successful decision for the business.

Practical examples of improvements after implementing a good data strategy could be to achieve greater efficiency in the way the marketing budget is invested, to achieve optimum staffing for a customer care project or in the adequate purchase of stock for its Sale, avoiding the lack of products or surplus.

Reward participation

From experience within our own agency, we know that one of the most challenging aspects of governing data is to achieve adequate and sustained participation of all actors directly or indirectly involved with the project.

While we sometimes manage to handle multiple tasks, and have to manage different business units from this angle, staffs are often limited in terms of time to keep everything in order. Even so, the collaborative nature of the program and success depend to a large extent on this shared commitment across all areas of a company.

For all of the above, developing an incentive-based rewards system can be an excellent way for people to focus on following the processes related to the program in an appropriate way.

It should be noted that incentives do not necessarily have to be economic, there are many other ways to make formal and informal recognitions that you can push inside the organization, such as exhibiting good examples, thereby sustaining enthusiasm and promoting desired cultural change.

Conclusions

When we talk about the new digital economy and that data is the transactional currency, we don´t talk about anything other than the value of data as an important asset of the brands. For this reason, having a strategy is fundamental. As well as having good data governance that links disciplines and internal areas of your company under processes, technologies and the experience of data specialists to ensure that you go in the right direction to improve efforts and make your company more profitable.