5 reasons why data governance initiatives fail

5 reasons why data governance initiatives fail

Most businesses know that data governance initiatives can be a challenge to implement.

With  more than 87 percent of organisations being classified as having low business intelligence (BI) and analytics maturity, is it any wonder that data governance initiatives often don’t work.

Given our years of experience working with all types of businesses on data governance projects, we have come up with five top reasons why these projects struggle or fail to make an impact:

Unable to connect with business value 

The inability to link data strategies and governance to business outcomes and value is a fundamental reason why governance projects struggle to deliver.  

Effective governance requires clear accountabilities and responsibilities for data ownership, and processes and systems to support the business.  A lack of understanding how the business needs to support governance will ultimately lead to poor decisions and lack of buy-in to these programs. 

Without clear alignment to business strategies, stakeholders can quickly lose confidence in the quality and accuracy of the data reported or analysed.  

When issues arise around data supporting business critical decision making, governance initiatives lose momentum and can end up being de-prioritised or even cancelled.  

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Lack of Change Management

Data Governance programs typically require significant cultural change. The way to drive culture improvement is not only through policies and standards, but also through active stakeholder management through a process of change.  

Understanding the individual experience of stakeholders, the roles that they play in the organisation, and their feelings about the value that they contribute, is the basis for creating a more trusted, collaborative environment.   It is this within this environment that data governance decisions lead to better business results. 

Attempting a big bang approach 

It’s often difficult to find the best way to approach and plan data governance programs.  In particular, knowing where to start can be very difficult to determine.  In highly regulated environments, compliance audits can often help kick start initiatives.

The implementation of data governance initiatives should be considered an evolution not a revolution.  The most successful programs start small, define a specific area of business value, and focus on incrementally delivering value to the business.  

Failed governance initiatives are often too big and broad for an organisation to handle, due to the amount of change that is required, and therefore incremental approaches are considered the most appropriate.

It is important to recognise that top down and bottom up approaches are required to effectively drive new data policies and standards, and these need time to be worked into the day to day operations of data custodians and owners.  

Long term sustainable program approaches will always be more effective than big bang approaches.  

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Data governance initiatives aren’t communicated

Related to poor change management, is the need to ensure adequate, decisive and insightful communication throughout the business as to why data governance is important, what value it will bring to operations and how it will impact people’s roles and responsibilities. 

Failed governance initiatives often result from senior executives who don’t understand the value of good governance, don’t have a good understanding of how it will enhance business decision making and more importantly, are time poor in terms of balancing their current responsibilities with the needs of a governance program. 

Inadequate education and training

Often those who are involved in or impacted by data governance decisions, receive insufficient education and training to make them effective actors in the data governance process.

A training needs analysis to support the data governance program should be conducted so the right levels of data literacy education and training can be planned and developed to support the program.  Aim for an ongoing program of training and monitoring that develops the right data governance skills at the right time for the right audience.

Do you want to get the most out of your data governance initiative? Check out Infocentric’s data governance advisory and consulting services management solutions.