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How buy-side can embed data governance into its strategy

While organizations have traditionally considered data governance an IT matter, they are increasingly viewing it as crucial to corporate strategy, according to a recent Information Management blog post written by data management expert Michele Goetz.

Currently, less than 15 percent of companies tie their data governance programs to the goals and initiatives of a business, wrote Goetz. However, the situation is shifting, as the proliferation of data-driven cultures coincides with firms viewing data governance as a key strategic competence.

Buy-side firms in particular might want to note this trend. Companies in this competitive space can potentially leverage their information to both make better-informed decisions and also reduce their expenses. One way these institutions can reduce the odds of having data that is either redundant or inaccurate is implementing a proper data governance framework.

Integrating data governance into strategy can be challenging, but by breaking the process up into simple steps, buy-side firms can make this transition more manageable.

Set up a data governance council
One good way to ensure that governance remains a top priority for institutions is to create a governing council. These groups have evolved significantly over the years, rising in prominence in organizations, Goetz wrote.

Governing councils used to have less power, having little purpose other than holding meetings and then making announcements on data management developments to staff, according to the author. In addition, these groups used to contain individuals from all over an enterprise. These days, governing councils hold dedicated staff members that command far more respect. Due to the new situation, organizations have significant need for these groups.

To set up one of these task forces, companies should find a person to take point and assume responsibility for the organization meeting its data governance objectives. Having this single leader is crucial, as establishing the proper information policies and procedures requires developing a consensus. Once this individual is identified, the company can then tap key stakeholders to create a governing council.

Generate universal buy-in
In addition to setting up a governing council, buy-side firms that want to firmly embed data governance into their strategy should be sure to get people at all levels of the business on-board. This includes senior executives, low – and mid-level managers as well as members of the rank and file.

Conduct an assessment
Once a buy-side firm has taken these first important steps, it should perform a data governance assessment. Having the right methodology for completing this task is crucial, as it will help key stakeholders get a sense of where the data governance program is now, and what must be done to bring it to the next step.

Documenting this process is also a good idea. Having the methodology in writing will make it easier for company staff to understand the results, and also provide something that future employees can improve upon.

Determining objectives
If a company wants to start thinking of its data governance program as being strategic, it must first sit down and figure out what objectives it wants to achieve with its important information, Goetz wrote.

Does the firm want to improve data quality? Would eliminating redundant information be helpful?

Upon outlining this vision, a firm might decide it needs to revise its operations, she stated. Doing so can spur the creation of new job responsibilities, positions and business processes. These represent more seismic shifts, as the company will likely need to consider other concerns such as profiling its data.

In this case, the buy-side firm might need to move its staff around and engage in business process management to ensure that its workflow is optimal.

Creating a roadmap
Once companies have determined their data vision, they can fill in the blanks by working backwards, creating realistic milestones and key performance indicators to measure their performance. With these tools, they can readily evaluate their progress and report this information to both the company’s CEO and board of directors.

Engage in continuous improvement
One crucial matter buy-side firms should keep in mind is that having strong data governance requires continuous investment of time and energy. While companies may start out with no information policies and procedures whatsoever, they should keep in mind that they still have far more work to do once this process is over.

To keep this progress alive, buy-side firms should establish continuous improvement programs. In addition, they could benefit greatly from finding a way to sustain enthusiasm surrounding data governance and efforts to make it better. Taking these key steps can greatly increase the odds that data governance will remain a key part of corporate strategy.

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