Convincing your organization to invest in a sustained data quality program implemented within a data governance framework can be a very difficult task requiring an advocate with a championship pedigree.  But sometimes it seems like no matter how persuasive your sales pitch is, even when your presentation is judged best in show, it appears to fall on deaf ears.

Perhaps, data governance (DG) is a D-O-G.  In other words, maybe the DG message is similar to a sound only dogs can hear.

Galton’s Whistle

In the late 19th century, Francis Galton developed a whistle (now more commonly called a dog whistle), which he used to test the range of frequencies that could be heard by various animals.  Galton was conducting experiments on human faculties, including the range of human hearing.  Although not its intended purpose, today Galton’s whistle is used by dog trainers.  By varying the frequency of the whistle, it omits a sound (inaudible to humans) used either to simply get a dog’s attention, or alternatively to inflict pain for the purpose of correcting undesirable behavior.

Bad Data, Bad, Bad Data!

Many organizations do not become aware of the importance of data governance until poor data quality repeatedly “bites” critical business decisions.  Typically following a very nasty bite, executives scream “bad data, bad, bad data!” without stopping to realize the enterprise’s poor data management practices unleashed the perpetually bad data now running amuck within their systems.

For these organizations, advocacy of proactive defect prevention was an inaudible sound, and now the executives blow harshly into their data whistle and demand a one-time data cleansing project to correct the current data quality problems.

However, even after the project is over, it’s often still a doggone crazy data world.

The Data Whisperer

Executing disconnected one-off projects to deal with data issues when they become too big to ignore doesn’t work because it doesn’t identify and correct the root causes of data’s bad behavior.  By advocating root cause analysis and business process improvement, data governance can essentially be understood as The Data Whisperer.

Data governance defines policies and procedures for aligning data usage with business metrics, establishes data stewardship, prioritizes data quality issues, and facilitates collaboration among all of the business and technical stakeholders.

Data governance enables enterprise-wide data quality by combining data cleansing (which will still occasionally be necessary) and defect prevention into a hybrid discipline, which will result in you hearing everyday tales about data so well behaved that even your executives’ tails will be wagging.

Data’s Best Friend

Without question, data governance is very disruptive to an organization’s status quo.  It requires patience, understanding, and dedication because it will require a strategic enterprise-wide transformation that doesn’t happen overnight.

However, data governance is also data’s best friend.

And in order for your organization to be successful, you have to realize that data is also your best friend.  Data governance will help you take good care of your data, which in turn will take good care of your business.

Basically, the success of your organization comes down to a very simple question — Are you a DG person?

This post originally appeared at OCDQ Blog. Published with permission.

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