Data Governance as part of Value Creation

Following our recent article, where we shared some of the findings from our State of Data Governance market study, I wanted to dig deeper into one of the findings. I’ve presented the research results several times now, and one of the aspects that stimulates the most conversation is the fact that 33% of the respondents did not feel like they had sufficient Executive level support for their governance programmes. Discussion typically focuses on why this is the case.

To my mind, this, more often than not, comes down to positioning – historically, Data Governance has been viewed similarly to insurance. The business case has always been based on regulatory or legislative compliance and cost avoidance in the form of fines.

Governance programmes are expensive and typically need investment in people and technology, but this is a big ask when it could be viewed as no more than an insurance policy, and the budget could be used to invest in initiatives with more direct contributions to revenue growth instead.

So let’s flip that on its head – how do we demonstrate value and gain that buy-in that organisations need?

Data governance is not just about cost avoidance; we need to consider what it enables and how it can also support the use of data to create business value. What is the impact of not having a robust data governance practice?

Simply put, it can lead to the misuse of data, poor quality of data led decision making and wasted budgets. Why is this? Well, it comes down to the old saying, “junk in, junk out”. Without data governance controls, the lineage and quality of the data at hand cannot be guaranteed. If data quality is poor, any decisions or outputs generated from that data will also be poor. Conversely, if we can ensure that the data is of good quality, the results of its usage will have greater accuracy and value.

What should we consider to demonstrate this value?

According to Gartner, data is valued at 20-25% of enterprise value. Studies have identified countless opportunities to leverage data to improve your business. So, developing a business case for data governance is undoubtedly possible. It just takes a thoughtful approach.

In our experience, there are a couple of areas that need to be considered as part of the process:

  1. A clear goal – you need to have a clear goal(s) for the short, medium and long term. It doesn’t mean you need to achieve them all immediately, but it helps the narrative of the business case, as well as giving everyone a common set of goals to work toward. 
  2. Success measurements – there needs to be quantifiable metrics, particularly on data quality improvements, to measure success. That could include the number of data errors resolved quarterly and the revenue gains or cost savings resulting from them.
  3. Consider all elements before embarking – that includes people, processes and technologies, as all three aspects are fundamentals of any data governance programme.
  4. Demonstrate incremental value – it’s essential to demonstrate value throughout the programme, not just at the end.

Data governance is a fundamental building block for value creation when it comes to your data, but it needs to be communicated to the executives within the business that way to drive the proper levels of investment and sponsorship for a critical programme.

If you’d like to learn more about our research findings, then register to join our upcoming webinar here.