Why Data Governance Policies Are Critical to Solution Success

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Organizations that hesitate to purchase data governance technology solutions often do so because they can’t see the finish line. And who can blame them? The vast array of solutions available would make it appear that large investments of time, money and effort would be necessary to implement multiple systems for comprehensive data governance.  This shouldn’t be the case however, because data governance technology has its limits and where it fails, actual human beings must pick up the slack.

While technology plays a critical role in a successful data governance program, organizations should exercise caution when it comes to implementing new technologies without having taken stock of their data governance policies. Without strong data governance policies that take into account things like social media use, BYOD programs or supplier management, data governance technology is useless.  Sometimes the lowest tech solution is the best one and spending money on more software without laying the groundwork sets companies up to fail.

The Absence of Clear Data Governance Policies Can Present Serious Implications

Even beyond the technology available, just beginning the process of discussing data governance policies can seem like a time-consuming undertaking.  However, not creating clear data governance policies, or having ones that are unenforceable, can have serious legal, regulatory, and operational implications.  Too many organizations wait until there has been a crisis or major issue to implement such policies, and then the damage is already done.

The role of data governance technology is not to supersede but to complement and enforce good policies.  For a new technology to succeed, it has to reinforce an already existing dedicated process infrastructure and mentality. Contrary to what some believe, technology shouldn’t drive user behavior. The behavior (or expectations surrounding that behavior) should already be well established, and the purpose of the new technology should be to enable adherence to those expectations.  Companies should start by determining the business need, define policies and processes, and only then evaluate technology options.

Data Governance Programs with Strong Technology are an Immediate Business Need

From managing big data to the need to comply with regulatory requirements, most, if not all, industries have recognized that data governance programs with strong technology are an immediate business need. But this urgency cannot overwhelm the importance of establishing sound processes first. In fact, in a recent data governance survey, results showed that companies who failed to pre-establish these processes found that their new technologies failed, even when the solution implemented was of very high quality. At the core of these failures are procedural errors which could have been avoided had companies taken the time to plan and establish strong data governance policies first.

One example that illustrates this challenge well occurred in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector when the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) mandated that companies who wanted to bid on government contracts had to be BIM-enabled (Building Information Modeling) practically overnight. In a mad rush to comply, AEC sector companies started purchasing the necessary technologies to demonstrate that they were compliant. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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