Data management

A crucial step for implementing a business intelligence project

Business Context

Managing data and information is crucial for a company and especially to be able to implement successfully a business intelligence project. Information is a key to success and data quality is critical to support business process and business decisions.
Through numerous projects in the field of Data Warehouse, BI and reporting, LACO was regularly confronted with data management issues (Data Definition, Data Quality, Data Ownership, Data Integration …).
Companies are therefore exposed to a series of risks such as the difficulty of obtaining the necessary reporting, waste of time for searching or verifying data, the use of incorrect data with unpredictable consequences, the loss of control facing the complexity…
In this context, Data Governance is an emerging discipline to improve Data management with a better collaboration between Business and IT. Amongst the requirements, we can highlight:
• Aligning Information with business objectives and strategy
• Definition of the information architecture
• Mapping between information and business functions
• Need for data ownership
• Improve data quality for business critical information

Data Governance approach

On the other hand, companies are faced with complex information systems and it is unrealistic to believe that everything can change in a short time. However, any isolated initiative will be in vain because Data Governance is primarily a program that needs an executive sponsor.
The main visible impact of Data Governance is the improvement of Data Quality but if no other actions are implemented to change the reasons of poor data quality, it will be a recurrent and expensive exercise that will bring frustration.
Data Governance needs therefore to cover all the aspects that have an impact on the data quality to provide a coherent Data Governance framework.
The scope is therefore very large and the implementation of Data Governance needs to be an iterative approach where each iteration is an opportunity to go through each component of the Framework.

Data Governance Framework

Data Governance is composed with elements like policies, data definitions, processes, organization and responsibilities…
All these elements must be organized in a coherent structure. We use the following framework:

Data Governance Initiatives

The implementation of Data Governance needs to be an iterative approach based on Data Governance Initiatives. The result of an initiative is an improvement of the Data Governance Maturity and an update of the roadmap to define the next steps.
The improvement of Data Governance after an initiative is measured not only by the progression of Data Quality but also by the change management done to maintain the Data Quality after the initiative.
Change management needs appropriate communication and training, this is why the documentation of Data Governance is so important because it is the support for presentations and training sessions. Enablement is not a minor part because it is trough communication that the Data Governance Cultural Change can occur.
A Data Governance Reference Guide and enablement are therefore indispensable tools to give all the chances of success in a middle term.

Conclusions

The cost of poor data quality can be difficult to evaluate until a catastrophe happens and this is why progressively, more and more companies have considered Data Governance as strategic priority in the overall IT Governance.
This proposed iterative approach has the advantage to start small but with the possibility to extend the scope by the definition of the roadmap. Through each iteration, benefits are highlighted and will be used to define new priorities. For example, in many case, companies identify that wrong decisions were taken for several years because Data Quality or Data Definition were too weak.
LACO is involved in many BI, Data Warehouse and Reporting projects and every day we overcome Data Management challenges (Data Quality, Data Definition, Data Ownership…).
This is why we want to share our Data Governance knowledge & experience.
For more information, please contact us at info@laco.be