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How to Successfully Implement a Data Governance Tool - Nicola Askham

15 May 2020 1:33 PM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

A while ago I wrote a blog about things you should consider when choosing the right software to help facilitate your Data Governance initiative, but once you have selected and purchased the tool do not assume that everything will now “just happen”. 

One of my clients was worried (and rightly so) that it was at this point of the project that mistakes could be made which would impact the successful implementation of their Data Governance tool.  I thought my advice to her may help others too:

Technical implementation considerations:

Firstly you need to understand exactly what support you will get from your chosen vendor so you can plan what additional support you may need for implementation.

Then make sure that you agree who is going to manage the technical implementation of your tool. Is it going to be an in-house project team or are you going to engage a systems integrator? If the former is the plan, you need to liaise with the vendor to be very clear on what technical skills training they have available. What do they recommend to make sure that your team are suitably skilled before starting the implementation?

 If you're going to use a third party to implement the tool, make sure you do due diligence to ensure that they understand the tool and have significant experience in implementing it. I have worked with organisations where a consultancy has been employed and they stated that they had experience in the tool.  However, it became clear that while the consultancy as a whole may have had the required experience, the consultants working for that particular client did not have any experience and were learning on the job.  This caused unnecessary delays and poor advice on what was and was not possible with the tool.

I also recommend focussing on one area or functionality of the tool for the initial implementation. Just because the tool has lots of features that doesn’t mean you need to implement everything at once.  Choose the most needed functionality and implement that first, then look to implement other features as needed.  Remember, at this stage, this is about giving your business users a tool to help them do Data Governance, not to confuse them with a complex tool and functionality they haven’t asked for. As your users become more comfortable with both Data Governance and using the tool you can implement more Data Governance requirements and tool functionality.

Post-implementation considerations:

It is never a good idea to implement a data governance tool over the whole of your organisation at any one time. So I recommend not seeing the implementation as a one-off project.

It is better to think of it as a phased process with the initial implementation being a pilot or trial. Once you have completed the pilot it is likely that the users and the Data Governance Team may want some changes.  This is common as you are introducing something new and not replacing an existing tool or process.  This makes it very hard to get your requirements exactly right on the first attempt.  So you may wish to make some tweaks to the setup of the tool before continuing a phased implementation across the whole organisation.

It could take a very long time to implement the tool fully.  You need to make sure that this is well planned and that you are constantly working out what the next phases are going to cover.

You also need to consider how you are going to keep the data in the tool up to date. I recommend that you have a regular review of the content, for example, an annual review where Data Owners look at the content for the data owned by them.  They can then either confirm that the definitions are still correct or, if necessary, provide updates to keep the tool up to date and useful for the business users.

How to roll out a data governance tool to Data Owners and Data Stewards:

As I mentioned in my previous blog about choosing the right Data Governance tool, it is essential that your Data Owners and Data Stewards (or at least a representative number of them) are involved in the initial implementation project. Often they have not asked for this tool and they do not react well to having the tool forced upon them.  It is vital that they are involved in the design stage, to make sure that it's set up in a way that is going to appeal to them and make them happy to use this new tool.

Even if your Data Owners and Data Stewards have been involved in the early stages, remember that doesn't mean they won't need additional briefing and training when the tool gets implemented.  I recommend having a section of your overall Data Governance Communications and Training plan dedicated to the implementation of your data governance tool.  This will include things like initial high-level briefings to explain what the tool is and why it will be useful to your organisation.  You will then need some specific focused sessions:

 ·     Sessions with Data Owners to tell them what they're expected to do with the tool and showing them exactly how to do it.

·      Sessions for Data Stewards which will be a little longer and more detailed as they will be doing the bulk of data entry and review of data in the tool.

Both sets of training need to be accompanied by some kind of user guide or aide memoir, to make it very easy for them to quickly check what they need to be doing once the training is over and they are using the tool for real.

Taking all the above into account may seem like a lot of undue effort when you just want to get on with implementing the tool, but doing so will make a huge difference over whether it is a success or not.

If you have other tips for a successful Data Governance tool implementation that I haven’t included above please let me know!

Nicola Askham

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