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Creating a Fan-Base for Your Data Governance Program

by Tina McCoppin
Originally published in TDWI Flashpoint, August 1, 2013

Your data governance program is up and running.  The team is in place to manage it and … you realize that few outside of your team know what a data governance program is or why it exists.  You already know that DG programs work best when your DG team isn’t just those assigned to the team, but instead is a corporate-wide effort to improve business outcomes and make data quality a priority.  So why won’t people spend more time better understanding the DG program when they will spend hours debating and searching for the right fantasy football picks or cruising Pinterest for great wall art?

Because of fast-paced work environments, your DG program competes against many factors (voicemails, emails, personal and professional responsibilities, and even Pinterest and football pools) and getting people on-board can be difficult.

I suggest you can overcome these challenges with marketing.  By looking at DG as a product that needs to be marketed, you can generate awareness, understanding, and support for your DG program as well as influence behavioral change.  And you don’t need a degree in marketing to borrow a few best practices to influence the success and adoption of your program.  This three-step process is a great place to start.

1)      Plan your data governance marketing strategy.

The business case for your data effort wasn’t thrown together – the marketing of your DG program shouldn’t be either.  Assess the situation on the ground, first – I suggest a quick SWOT analysis of your DG program to start: Where are we successful? Where do we continue to struggle? What are some new opportunities for DG?

After careful SWOT analysis (or a self-assessment method of your choice), you can better identify the opportunities your program has for improvements with the greatest impact and benefits, then flesh out your DG marketing plan and tactics.  And, as with any business case, present your plan, secure buy-in and maintain and grow support for your achievements by demonstrating value.  All of this requires careful marketing of your program and plan.

2)      Select your marketing vehicles.

Next, you can borrow from some basic marketing tools to start evangelizing your program:

Collateral and Communications

PowerPoint presentations can be turned into educational pieces about the DG program.  You should consider having two versions, a 10-minute overview for when you are a guest speaker and have limited time, and a 30 to 40-minute version for keynotes.

You can also prepare brief updates for internal emails, newsletters and other forms of internal communications.  Contribute DG content for use on your Intranet, newsletter or portal articles.  Often the people in charge of managing this content love to receive fresh, contributed material and will be open to including your DG program information if it is timely, newsworthy and you can demonstrate that it is of interest or importance to the audience.

Team and Enterprise Events

Participate in internal events whenever possible.  Use the PowerPoint content you create and suggest including it in “lunch and learn” sessions, group meetings, and in formal employee training sessions.

Organization Constructs

Align your department with other departments and meetings/events that complement your DG efforts.  Some of those might include the project management office and their gate or sign-off reviews, IT audits, system development life cycle reviews, risk review meetings or other committee meetings you find relevant.

Executive Meetings

Whenever possible, contribute slides or offer a five minute update on the DG program for inclusion on the agenda.  At the executive level, you should keep your focus on organizational impact and business results.

 PR, Awards and Social Media

There’s significant interest in shared knowledge and experience in DG endeavors. Your industry colleagues want to hear your best practices and insights.  You can comb through some of your favorite magazines and conferences for ways to nominate your team and your project for awards and recognition or plan a social media message to your followers and contacts.

3)      Know what to communicate – and do it!

Finally, know what to communicate through these great marketing tools.  At a minimum, the DG “message” should consist of the following:

  • What is data governance?
  • Why do we need it here?
  • What are the benefits of data governance? (Try to tailor this to your audiences)

As you develop and grow the DG program, additional DG material, information and artifacts should become part of a stream of marketing messages to the business and IT community involved in governance.   These might include DG policies, metrics and outcomes, the business case for the DG program, project status, anecdotes of successes and challenges, and external articles about DG from the media.

Finally, you must delicately balance communicating frequently without over-saturating the audience.  And keep your efforts fresh and interesting – not just always about “data” but stressing the importance of well-managed data and its impact on the business.  Grab attention and create DG support – then you can foster the transformation of co-workers and employees into an extension of your DG team.  Good luck in your marketing efforts!

About the Author

Tina McCoppin is a partner and founder at Ajilitee, a consulting and services firm specializing in business intelligence, information management, agile analytics, and cloud enablement. She brings 25+ years in IT integration experience and has served as an engagement and project manager for numerous Fortune 1000 companies. You can reach Tina at