The story begins with a mail sent out to several employees and departments conveying the message, that over the weekend, a specific piece of information about all the company’s products would be moved from one field in the ERP system and into another field. It’s sent from a consultant (not from Platon :-)) who’s working on a project for the company. The mail ends with the simple question: Is everyone OK with this?
What do you think happens?
First, the mass-change is completed before anyone fathoms what’s going on.
Secondly, chaos, as people scramble to understand what just messed up their processes and reports. As it turns out, this piece of information about the products was used in several places including production planning, and both that process, as well as the process to maintain the data, is now broken.
So maybe this was a company with low compliance requirements and informal processes? No, completely the opposite. We’re dealing with a large and leading company which has some otherwise very high levels of quality assurance. But even with good IT governance, they were not properly safeguarding their information against something like this.
There are many reasons this went wrong, but the primary one is simply the lack of timely involvement from the business people using and maintaining this particular information.
We’ve now helped move this company forward with Data Governance, and one particular development has been the design of and training in an enhanced IT change process, that effectively catches these kinds of potential data disasters.
Taking a step back, why is it so hard, even for mature, well-structured organisations to manage their information? These are some of the root causes I see –
- lack of education and awareness of basic “good data practice”
- no formality or rigour around data definitions, roles, and processes
- no qualified challenging and managing of (IT) vendors during projects
- missing business accountability for information quality
As the economy is looking, at least for the next few years, companies will continue to focus on driving down costs. And I believe that Data Governance is a seriously underestimated way to improve a business’ operational efficiency.
I hope you are considering what Data Governance can do for you, and, if you really are in control of your data?