There are 10 basic, yet important steps to building a business case for data governance.Within each step are a number of best practices that define the level of programme success, failure or mediocrity. These steps involve strategy development, value identification, industry sources, data assessments, technology, concept definition, funding, success/risk factors, documentation and presentation.
Develop a strategy
Creating a business case for data governance is as much about developing a strategy as it is about defining economic justification. The approach an organisation takes often determines the fate of the entire exercise.
In particular, a case for governance will hinge on the ability to alter age-old perceptions,expose the holistic impact of data governance and persuade management to change outcomes through business process improvement. The phrase, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”, certainly applies to data governance and specifically to building the business case for it.
Data operations benefits
There are numerous benefits associated with improving data operations within an entity. Most are tied to increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and improving service levels.
The domains commonly covered include:
* Authority and accountability;
* Issue resolution;
* Roles and responsibilities;
* Standards;
* Data definitions;
* Data integration;
* Data modeling;
* Data standards;
* Data stewardship;
* Data quality;
* Meta data management;
* Security and privacy;
* Work flow management; and
* Building a business case for data governance.
These are the data operational benefits:
* Decrease software costs;
* Enhance interoperability between lines of business and work groups;
* Improve data quality outcomes;
* Improve report accuracy;
* Increase timeliness of data;
* Minimise redundancy and rework;
* Mitigate the risk of a security breach;
* Reduce development costs; and
* Reduce the costs of maintaining systems.
Historically, many data governance programmes have hung their entire business case on these benefits. While important, they do not represent the sum of the parts.
Leverage industry sources
A business case should be fortified with the objectives published from industry analysts and practitioners. Excerpts from studies, surveys, books, articles, blogs and interviews by industry specialists can be very powerful.
Collectively, these citations bring credence to a business case. They also mitigate the perception that stakeholders are too close to the situation to be fully believable and effective in stating their case.
Perform a data assessment
Another effective method involves profiling and analysing a subset of the organisation’s data. With state-of-the-art profiling tools, a company can quickly measure the severity of their data problems and leverage the results in support of the business case. Introducing tangible data metrics into the business case argument can be convincing.
Identify technology requirements
Technology is an instrumental component in data governance policies and practices. For the purpose of the business case, it is important to identify the technologies that may be required, as well as the expected investment.
This does not imply that a technology evaluation is in order, only that technology needs are identified up front for planning and budgeting purposes. This exercise is also useful for helping stakeholders understand what is possible.
Build a concept definition
If the value proposition passes the eye of management, the first question will be, “How do you intend to implement this programme? In preparation for this question, stakeholders need to develop a high-level concept definition that outlines how to implement a data governance programme. At minimum, the following topics should be covered:
* Organisational structure – roles,responsibilities, authority, and accountability;
* Business alignment – the interoperability of people, business units, and committees;
* Authority and accountability – span of control for the discipline, data ownership;
* Resource requirements – new positions, new hires, realignment of existing resources;
* Roll out plan – high-level road map including time lines and milestones.A well thought-out concept goes a long way toward answering the important questions posed by business leaders and solidifying their confidence in stakeholders.
Establish funding requirements
Financial support is essential to the success of data governance and is much easier to secure if stake-holders have done a good job of defining programme value. The investment required will vary from one organisation to the next, but commonly involves any one or more of the following expenditures:
* Program leadership position;
* Technology tools;
* Education and training; and
* Third-party assistance.
There may be additional resource requirements. However, most come from reorganising existing people and groups to carry out data governance activities at no extra cost to the organisation.
Determine requirements for success/areas of risk
It is important to identify and share requirements for success as well as the primary risk factors for achieving it. Success criteria can be based on any one or a combination of the business outcomes, project-based outcomes, management by objectives (MBOs) and data outcomes.
Programme risk also needs to be noted as a potential inhibitor to success. Common risk includes inadequate funding, span of control, authority, legitimacy, technology, and business alignment (business, IT, and executives). Make sure decision-makers understand what it is going to take to be successful, and where the land mines reside.
The business case should be encapsulated into a document that can be distributed and referenced at any point in the process. The document should be concise, factual, practical and educational. At minimum, it should include an executive summary, purpose of the programme, data governance definition and concepts and overview of the challenges.
It should also cover the current state of data governance initiative, value proposition, five areas of value, industry citations, results from the data assessment, examples of past projects gone wrong, technology and funding requirements, success criteria/areas of risk, investment summary (value/cost), recommendations and concept definition.
A business case needs to be formally presented to senior business leadership. It must also be shared with all programme participants. It is mission-critical to ensure that everyone involved understands the purpose and benefit of the programme.
The presentation needs to highlight key points within the business case document and include examples and analogies that the audience can relate to. All of which should take no more than 30 minutes with 15 minutes for questions.