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Data Governance: Picking a High-value Target

Everybody has read the advice that if you want to have a successful data governance initiative, you should scope your project for success, have executive sponsorship, have a way to measure success, etc.

My question is this: If you were just starting a data governance initiative and you were looking around your organization to pick the initial, high-value target, what kind of project would you pick?  You will want that first project to have a high probability of success, but you will also want it to produce significant value to the organization, so that they see the value of continuing to fund data governance.

I am particularly curious to see if this will vary by industry and I expect that it will.

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In my experience, I've found my earliest data governance or data quality successes have been when I was successfully able to piggy-back on an already funded, prioritized and sponsored initiative.  By evangelizing the inclusion of whatever data standards, policies and rules in the context of those projects, I could take credit for that quick win while building some internal credibility that our small, grassroots team of stewards could help add value without being a roadblock.  I've personally done this on Order to Cash initiatives, CRM and ERP upgrades, enterprise data warehousing efforts, campaign management systems and Customer and Contact master implementations.  

Of course if you're lucky enough to have whatever resources, funding and executive sponsorship required without this grassroots approach, all the better.  I've spoken with many organizations in financial services, for example, that have significant support day one due to their risk and compliance priorities.  I expect you're right that we will see some interesting variation by industry.

I was mentioning in another post about cleaning up everyone's system access. If you have a lot of colleagues who move from one department to anther, they can collect user ID's, LAN drive access, keys/passes to secure areas, digital reports etc. Potentially, you could have people at many levels, who just have far too much access. This should also include access to screen options and function within applications as well.

I would have a data access amnesty. Contact all your key managers and find out what colleagues should have access to, and work with your IT department to pair everyone's access down to what it should be.

There's a product called Varonis that is positioned as data governance for shared drives, Outlook folders, and Sharepoint. It might be useful in the type of access cleanup you're talking about, Richard. 

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