Data Governance

The Right Access to the Right Data

No matter the size of your company, it's time to develop a data governance strategy. Here's how to get started and what areas are essential to focus on.

Diane Schmidt, London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) Head of Enterprise Data Governance, chats with Leonard Maganza, Syniti's Chief Customer Officer as part of the CDO Magazine Interview Series. 

In this interview, Schmidt and Maganza discuss the many diverse ways of adopting, defining, and creating a data governance initiative.  

What does Master Data Governance Mean?

A data governance strategy can include a lot of things, and there are a lot of approaches to defining, designing, or implementing that strategy. But for Schmidt at LSEG, it’s simple: “It’s all about having the right people with the right access to the right data to do the right thing.” 

As Schmidt explains, the goal of master data governance is to ensure that “the ecosystem is a trusted one, and one that you can pass on that confidence to customers, so they can enable their customers.” Depending on the company, that can mean improved policy and standards, better controls, data cataloging, metadata management, or a combination of all those things.  

By looking to the business and what the business priorities are, what budget or funding is available, and what the regulatory obligations are, leaders can drive data governance programs and the direction it needs to go.

How to Get Everyone on Board with New Data Management Standards

Getting everyone from primary stakeholders to end-users engaged with a new data management program comes down to one thing: an executable strategy. 

“You have to be proactive, you have to be predictable, you’ve got to be able to anticipate, and you’ve got to drive the agenda,” Schmidt explains. “You don’t want to be reactive.” 

When it comes to technology, new things are happening all the time, new services, new products, and new opportunities; therefore, the strategy in place really needs to constantly adapt to what’s happening in the company in order to handle change in the business environment. 

“When you’re able to go back to the strategy and how that strategy supports the business and the business benefits, the dialog starts to change,” says Schmidt.   

How Do You “Measure” Data Literacy?

When it comes to measuring the impact of new data quality and data governance programs, “data is a journey,” as Maganaza notes. Start small and ask yourself – what are the things you can count? Over time you’ll build enough metrics and measurements to understand the overall health and well-being of the data. 

At LSEG, for example, one of those measurements is conformance to group data policy. “Essentially understanding data literacy,” Schmidt explains, “and how well people do or don’t understand data management and data governance and their roles.”  

For Schmidt and her team, assessing and understanding data literacy rates and conformance is an impactful metric. “Ultimately, there’s a direct correlation between that framework, as well as maturity and the business benefits,” says Schmidt. 

Common Misconceptions About Data Governance 

When it comes to data governance, there can be many misconceptions. According to Schmidt, one of the most common misconceptions about data governance is thinking of it simply as a back-office function that IT takes care of and handles when they can.

“Data governance is truly a business aligned-function,” she says. “IT plays a critical role in that they are partners, and they support the solutioning, based on requirements and instructions,” but it’s important to manage that asset as any other business or enterprise function. 

Secondly, many people miss the core of what data governance is really about.  Sure, there’s data, and there’s governance. But for Schmidt, it’s really about behaviors. 

“It’s about changing behaviors and the way that people think about data, the way that they manage and control data, and what data can tell you about your own company and your products and services,” Schmidt says. “Everything is about the data,” she concludes.  

Getting Started with Automation 

With a sound, strategic data governance policy in place, Schmidt and her team at LSEG can now go beyond their first initial set of processes and look for ways to develop tools to automate those processes.  

“We currently have this phenomenal group data policy framework that’s comprised of our policy and standards and procedures down the road,” Schmidt explains. “We review change opportunities against those policies and standards before it gets expensive to change it.”  

For example, by developing an in-house solution for a web-based, customer-facing form, Schmidt and her team now have an automated way for customers to fill out a form and trigger events to various team members. 

“Now we don’t have to use that infamous excel spreadsheet,” Schmidt says. “We have tools to not only automate our process but as a child of the overall change management processes.”  

Just remember: It’s okay when you’re just starting out to not use non-automated processes. Those are your building blocks to be used when developing solutions and tools.  

Developing Your Own Data Governance Strategy   

No matter the size of your company or your role, anyone can easily get started in building a data governance strategy. Start by taking the time to do your research and really understand your company.  

“Taking the time to really understand your own company is something that I think people forget about sometimes.” It is paramount for data leaders to understand your companies business, products, and services to look at your service and figure out what problem you’re trying to solve and how those are supporting the corporate mission or the line of sight."

With a sound data governance strategy in place, everyone at LSEG has more flexibility to do more. “To ensure that the ecosystem is trusted and well-managed, and controlled, is just something that is non-negotiable,” Schmidt states.  

“So, in all our programs, in all our workstreams, in all our planning, in all our teams – we're just going for it...Because again, we’re critical for the financial infrastructure,” she concludes. 

“Take on the biggest challenge you can find,” recommends Schmidt. “Yes, you need resources, yes, you need backing,” she admits. “But I say go for it. Take the risk.” 

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