Data & Intelligence

Overcoming the Road Blocks to Governance Success

So here we are. From my last entry you know we just crafted the perfect set of benefit statements for why the enterprise should put an Information Governance Program in place. But alas, you find yourself still getting pushback and objections. Can’t people see how good this is? Well, frankly, yes and no. This is the age old problem – there may be benefit, but is it worth the cost? Most objections can be traced back to that very reasonable concern. The twist here is that this “cost” usually isn’t monetary, or even time-focused. No, the reality is quite often the root of many concerns can be traced back to change.

Governance is essentially a change management activity and change is hard! Consider that Governance focuses upon peoples’ behavior towards information, so instituting governance really is about addressing people’s resistance to change – even if they know that change is good. Keep this in mind when responding to whatever objections you may encounter.

I offer here some typical concerns that have been expressed, with some ideas as to how to address them. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, and there very well may be other ways to allay each concern, but, just knowing, and expecting that you may encounter resistance – these may help in your preparations. Like any good trial lawyer who is taught to never ask a question of a witness to which she doesn’t already know the answer – knowing the potential road blocks ahead of time provides an opportunity to address them calmly.

“this is just overhead and gets in the way of real work”
This one takes many forms, but the underlying concern is often: “I don’t want to change the way I do things.” A good approach here is to focus on how governance enables not restricts. That is, although yes there may be new rules to adhere to or new processes to follow, the result will be more consistency in what you do – and knowing everyone is also doing the same, you’ll be able to trust the information that much more, saving you time in getting your job done.

“self-service is different and can’t be governed”
This is a concern being driven by the introduction of tools and technologies that allow business users to manipulate data much more easily, so, very often they can perform their own “analytics” just by being provided access to the raw data. The contention is this makes it extremely difficult to control the data at all as it takes the capability away from a central area. It is true that the challenge is increased, but I would contend that this makes it even more imperative that tight information controls are in place so that everyone can “start” with the same, consistent set of information. It can be governed, but requires emphasis on people’s behavior when it comes to obtaining the data they wish to use. For Governance personnel it really means getting more involved with the end-user to maintain awareness of the information they are using and its source, to advise or counsel appropriately as to the most appropriate sources for what they are wanting to do.

“big data is different (unstructured = uncontrollable)”
Like self-service the growth and focus on Big Data does require some re-thinking as to classic Governance approaches, but does not mean it’s uncontrollable. This again will likely require a higher collaboration need with the end-users and rules, especially quality type rules, to be a little more lenient for unstructured data. The key is making sure the end user understands what they are working with, its level of reliability and its applicability to the particular business issue they want to address – e.g. great for research, probably not so much for regulatory compliance reporting.

“there isn’t enough time to do this extra stuff”
Another “overhead” kind of concern. This often comes down to an allocation concern. The Governance activities are often just “piled on” to resources plates while they are still expected to do their “day jobs.” This admittedly is a recipe for those activities to be the first thing to fall off someone’s radar. Focus on working to ensure appropriate time allocations are incorporated into all resources expectations, ideally to the point of job descriptions reflecting these activities as part of the job.

“there is no proof doing this helps”
Ah, this one is actually very good! This means that the benefit is likely accepted but it has not been demonstrated that the governance artifacts are adding value. We will talk about this in a future blog entry, but for now realize that this can be addressed through consistent and specific measurements being taken and presented with regard to the value and impact of the artifacts themselves on the business. If you have them, point to historical measurements that demonstrate this value or, if you don’t have them, look into industry benchmarks to demonstrate and emphasize that measuring is (or will be) an integral aspect that is included in the deployment of all artifacts produced by the program.

I’m sure there are more, and perhaps you have heard others that bear mentioning. Please add them to the comments section, as the more we know the better prepared we will be in countering these concerns.

I hope you found these helpful. One last piece of the “sales” puzzle that I believe is very helpful both in the selling of the program and its actual execution, that is, a set of best (good) practices. Demonstrating that you “know what you’re doing” provides a comfort level for decision makers that if they do approve the program it will be carried out effectively. Conveying these practices as part of your presentation will help provide that reassurance. In my next blog post we will review some of the more typical practices identified in the industry. Until next time, thanks for reading.

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