I was on a panel at the recent TSAM UK 2013 conference in London – where the topic was “Good data governance – the challenges for the business“.
On the panel I was joined by Phil Tattersall (Simitas), Steve Clark (KPMG) and Andrew Barnett (Friends Life Investments), our moderator was Chris Johnson of HSBC Security Services.
One of the topics we discussed on the day was around governance frameworks, what had we seen in practice that worked and to what extent was governance being driven by business (as opposed to IT).
One of Phil’s comments still resonates with me today “Data governance is not data management” – why so? …unfortunately the perception that governance = management is something I come across too often. Data governance is what ensures that data management happens properly i.e. in a way that is aligned with the original goals and terms of reference for the initiative under way. Data management professionals need to clearly understand the difference between governance, stewardship and architecture!
Another of Phil’s points was also very salient ”treat data as an asset” any of you that read the recent Citisoft white paper “Data is the new oil” will see the connection – data is something we need to value, it can often be presented in a very raw form, and like oil, it requires careful refinement to extract maximum value. I am fan of the data and oil metaphor myself – from a slightly different angle though, I often refer to data being the oil in the distribution engine for investment managers – feed the engine with poor quality oil (data) and within a short space of time that engine will seize up.
Steve also had some good points in the above discussion, he stressed the importance of setting out the “policy and procedures in governance” and the criticality in “defining good data quality” and the measurement and feedback that should exist in your process management framework to drive improvement.
With respect to whether governance should be driven by business or IT, Andrew indicated that in his business “data teams are made up of business people” – myself and the rest of the panellists agreed that data governance initiatives should be driven by business, but that clearly IT have a role to play and their involvement will always help.
My own view was that frameworks for governance are important, in the sense a framework is anything that providers structure and guidance to the application of governance to any data management initiative. This ‘structure and guidance’ can take the form of technology that assists the empowering of the stewards to manage data in line with the stated strategies and principles as laid out by governance. Technology can also assist in driving ownership, accountability and transparency into the process. The key point though is not to overly rely on technology. Technology does not fix bad quality data – that is what good data management professionals do – we just need to enable them to do their job more effectively.