Can a Framework for Data Governance Make a Difference?

Recently, I had a conversation with a Data Governance (DG) professional that had moved into a new role within his organization. When he accepted the position, the job description for the role was specific to leading DG initiatives. To be transparent, his organization was making an honest attempt to implement DG by staffing dedicated FTEs.  What sold him on this organization, going in, was that they had all the makings of a great DG program.  According to him, they had implemented the “Cadillac” of DG technology.  He was excited to join the organization and further develop the DG program by helping them unlock some of the tool’s functionality.

It did not take long for the honeymoon to wear off;  he was updating his resume.  He had made no progress in evolving the DG program because he was continually being assigned to work on other non-DG related projects. To make matters worse, his leadership notified him that they were reducing his DG allocations down to 5%.  Considering he was hired to work specifically on DG, that was a problem.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not unique. In fact, this is one of the more common themes we see when conducting a readiness assessment or environmental scan.  DG is commonly described as a priority for the organization.  But in reality, it is often treated as a  “nice to have”; a secondary or tertiary priority.

Data is arguably one of the most valuable assets in any organization, yet it’s often being managed as an afterthought.  We are all acutely aware that the risk of unmanaged or mismanaged data is high (e.g. Equifax).  It’s not just financial, it’s personal.  In healthcare organizations, we have both a legal and ethical responsibility to our patients and our patient’s data.  Protecting that data is not a “nice to have,” it’s a clinical and legal “must have.”  But DG goes well beyond the protection of data; it addresses the costly inefficiencies of redundancy, lack of standardization, definitional confusion, data use and trust between data creators, consumers, and custodians.

The DAMA Dictionary of Data Management defines Data Governance as: “The exercise of authority, control and shared decision making (planning, monitoring, and enforcement) over the management of data assets.”

You may be asking, what does DG have to do with protecting data? I will answer that question with a series of questions.

  • What data do you care about protecting?
  • Do you know where that data is located?
  • Do you track that data from inception to consumption to its ultimate disposition?
  • Do you know all the transformations that the data went through prior to publication?

A well-defined, operational DG program will have the people, processes, and technology in place to respond to any one of those questions with ease.

The upside to this particular scenario is that the organization is investing in dedicating resources to DG.  They are simply struggling with the realities of program execution.   Dedicating resources to DG demonstrates strategic alignment between an organization’s goals and objectives and the value it places on data as means to reach those goals. However, the “proof in the pudding” lies in execution, and execution is a function of leadership, a plan, and communication.  Having a framework to help guide the process and align priories is key to the successful implementation of DG. Frameworks provide important structure and are especially helpful when embarking on something new.

Our clarityDG™ framework, purpose-built for healthcare,  establishes nine authoritative domains that serve as programmatic pillars. With this structure, the work completed, the decisions made, and actions taken are organized, have context, and can be more easily communicated.

If your organization is struggling with competing priorities and DG continues to take a back seat, it is time to consider leveraging a framework as a guide to help drive the discipline needed to effectively start or manage your DG program.

For more information on Immersive’s clarityDG Environmental Scan and Readiness Assessment visit clarityDG Solutions.


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