In the last blog we wrote about the concept of maintaining Data Governance Awareness, which boils down to knowing who uses what data or information from where. Governance metadata is needed to maintain this very dynamic relationship between data, systems, departments, and governance roles. MetaGovernance uses four governance roles to ensure precision in responsibility and accountability by differentiating. Data Owners and Data Delegates (or Data Stewards for those who prefer this term). To us, blurring the distinction between a Data Owner and a Data Delegate leaves no one department fully accountable.
But why do we care? What is the ‘so what’? Effective Data Governance and Information Governance are all about striving for operational efficiency, minimizing waste, and minimizing operational and regulatory risk. Which of these factors are primary is a function of your industry. As examples, manufacturing typically focuses on efficiency and waste, whereas finance and insurance are often forced to prioritize operational and regulatory risk due to external influences from auditors and regulators.
At a recent client, we were working with the Chief Accounting Officer. As part of our Data Governance implementation, we had defined the basic components of a quick start program, namely defining Data Owners, Data Delegates, Data Consumers, System of Record, known copies, and Data Governance controls that had been implemented between systems. The Governance Awareness Matrix clearly showed this relationship.
Our journey continued where we showed the official data sources, and the various data sources where people actually obtained data. We then showed where data was maintained outside of the source system (shifting system of record), the lack of controls, and the fact that her department was actually obtaining the same data from multiple places. People sitting side-by-side obtaining consumer loan data from multiple systems, totally unaware that data was maintained outside of the source and that 40% of the data used for financial reporting was based on stale data.
This company had no awareness of this fact until we called it to their attention. The resolution in this case was quite simple. We simply pointed all registered consumers to the one, correct, data source. When there is not a single, correct, mutually agreed upon data source, as is often the case, the resolution can be more difficult.
The business value of maintaining governance awareness in this case was accurate financial disclosures and reduction in risk. Lack of awareness equates to a “regulatory finding just waiting to happen”. In this case, with only a few weeks of effort, we had a CAO who was very grateful for pointing out a critical issue before it became a regulatory or financial issue.
The MetaGovernance methodology addresses these issues at aggregate subject areas, not at the detail weeds of tens of thousands of data elements. We focus on critical Control Attributes that can be used to attest to the overall health and data quality. Maintaining awareness is key to effective Data Governance, and relatively simple to implement, provided that a spreadsheet, Visio and PowerPoint are not your Data Governance tools. We will continue to explore this aspect of Awareness in future blogs.