Data Governance: We Are Programmed to Receive

Summer vacation has ended in the Northern Hemisphere. From camping and hiking to glamping and relaxing, many of us had our fair share of fun again this year. This past summer, I had the opportunity to stay in a wide variety of hospitality establishments for both personal and professional travel, which, for me, has generated another fun way to look at data governance that I am excited to share. Because, let’s face it, without good analogies, data governance on its own can be, well, kind of dry.

Welcome to the Hotel Data Governance. Such a lovely place. (The tune is already in your head isn’t it? You’re welcome.)

1. Reservations recommended, but not required.

It would be nice if we knew everything that was going to be included in our data governance program day to day, but that’s not reality.

Similar to hotel regulars, there are some data governance initiatives that are clearly defined and planned. They provide plenty of notice, and they are very specific about what they want in their accommodations, how long they expect to stay, and when they will return. Initiatives that are compliance-driven or regulatory in nature are typical Hotel Data Governance regulars.

But, there are also projects, requests, and needs that view data governance as a pit-stop on a long trip. Heck, these guests probably didn’t even know they were stopping by until the last minute. For them, data governance is an afterthought, and they don’t make reservations. You want to garner your customers’ attention, even if it is at the last minute. Build it into your framework to attract and accept these weary travelers. Think of part of your communication plan as an interstate billboard seen on the road as stomachs start growling and eyelids are getting heavy. They can’t afford not to stop. And, as long as they enjoy their stay, they will likely stop again on another trip. They might even make a reservation next time.

The trick is that, similar to a hotel, there is limited vacancy. With existing reservations, you can only accept walk-ins until you reach capacity. But the billboard is still up. You will have to say no sometimes because you are limited by your resources. You can’t accept all last-minute projects or solve all the organization’s data problems at once. When you reach the point where you can no longer accept walk-ins, it is time to add on to the hotel and expand your data governance program.

2. “We are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave!” (Eagles, “Hotel California,” 1977)

Perhaps an interesting twist and new theory for the meaning of these treasured lyrics, but these are ideal words for data governance. (How’s that tune in your head now?)

Intake should be easy for data initiatives. Don’t make onboarding for data governance (and related data management) onerous or they will never want to stay. Bring projects into the data governance fold with few constraints. And be ready to push the responsibility for compliance with overarching enterprise governance down as quickly as possible. Data decisions belong at the lowest level of autonomy within an organization. Enable an environment in which your patrons don’t have to subscribe to the “bureaucracy” of having others govern them and are able to govern themselves. They check out, but they never leave. Really, the lyrics are brilliant!

3. Housekeeping and/or maintenance?

If a guest has a problem in the Hotel Data Governance, do they call housekeeping or maintenance? It depends. Data governance needs both to keep the light on for you (thanks Tom Bodett).

Housekeeping and maintenance are often used interchangeably by hotel guests. When a problem arises, they don’t care who fixes the problem, they just want it fixed. Data governance patrons are no different—they just want solutions (and to complain about the problem, of course). Streamline the process for customers to log their issues, but recognize that housekeeping and maintenance are not the same. While they share outcomes of guest comfort and safety, what housekeeping and maintenance do and how they do it are vastly different.

Housekeeping is a daily activity with a keen focus on cleanliness and hygiene. While cleaning, housekeepers also look for potential safety concerns, ensure a comfortable guest environment, and supply all room amenities. Housekeeping follows a very rigorous process that is repeated throughout the entire establishment. While some rooms may receive different daily treatment at the guest’s request, there is a predetermined process for guests to request additional services or decline services each day. Ideally, housekeeping is a finely tuned process with little to no room for ad hoc requests other than when predetermined room amenities need to be replenished. The process and rigor of housekeeping are necessary for effective and efficient data governance.

Maintenance operates differently: Maintenance is not a single daily task or process. Maintenance can happen at regularly scheduled intervals which vary from task to task. While maintenance is also intended to ensure guest safety and comfort, it is more periodic. Maintenance is also available 24/7 to address ad hoc requests related to functional operations (such as light bulbs, remote controls, and toilets) and privacy/safety.

Because the expectations of housekeeping and maintenance are unique, they are typically different roles. Make sure you are able to provide both housekeeping and maintenance within your data governance program.

There is plenty of room at the Hotel Data Governance. Housekeeping and maintenance will ensure your safety and comfort. It will be clean, and it will be functional. Housekeeping will ensure there shouldn’t be a problem, but if one should arise, maintenance will make sure it is resolved. Reservations are recommended but not required. You can check out, but you will never leave. Are you livin’ it up at the Hotel Data Governance?


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