Advice on how to get business buy-in for data governance

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To truly drive data governance, you need the right tools in place, but even more than that, you need to get the right stakeholders on board, and your data citizens engaged. You install a data governance solution (hopefully it’s Collibra!). It’s there. Now how do you get stewards engaged? How do you get the business to work with this? How do you explain the importance and value of data governance, and get other departments on board? These are exactly the questions that Nicola Askham, also known as “the Data Governance Coach,” talked about at our recent London customer meet-up.

How to Gain Business Buy-in for Data Governance

From conversations with customers and partners, we know that gaining business buy-in for data governance can be a challenge. Nicola’s talk offered food for thought on how to get more business stakeholders involved, and teaches us to be pragmatic about data governance. I love the advice she gives:

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You need to be there in the organization, bottom up, an actively engage with the people who use and own the data. You also need top down support. There’s no point in doing anything, if you do not have the right stakeholder engagement.

Nicola advises that the only way to achieve the needed level of engagement, is to know WHY your organization is doing data governance, and to be able to articulate that to everybody in your organization, in a way that is meaningful to them.

Top down: Corporate Strategy

Next, Nicola talked about how to gain senior engagement for data governance. She advised that to gain top-level engagement, you need to focus on the strategy of your organization. This is not necessarily a data strategy, but rather the corporate strategy. Your top execs do not want to know why you are doing data governance. They want to know why they should do it. They want you to articulate how data governance will help them achieve their corporate strategic objectives. So for each senior executive that you talk to, Nicola advises that you apply the primary benefits of data governance to their goals.

Bottom up: Data Quality Horror Stories and Conceptual Data Models

Have you ever considered collecting your company’s ‘data quality horror stories?’ (Don’t worry, everyone has them. We’ve even asked some of our customers to share their horror stories at our upcoming Data Citizens conference!) These are a proper part of your business analysis, and can really help to show the importance of data governance. But gathering this intel is a true mission. As Nicola shared, this information will not just present itself to you. Instead, you must go out there and get people to open up and tell their deep dark secrets. Another way to get people to talk data with you is by working with them to draw high-level, conceptual data models. This will also help you to start identifying data ownership.

GDPR Creates new Stakeholders

Last but not least, Nicola advised that you always keep your eye out for new stakeholders. During our meet-up, customers and partners agreed that there is increased interest from information security, driven by GDPR. As one customer put it: “They get it.” We could not agree more. Having a good data governance framework in place will help you to comply with the GDPR requirements. (My colleague, Tudor Borlea, shows you how to set up this data governance framework in this 30-minute General Data Protection Regulation course in Collibra University).

Nicola’s presentation brought to life many of the challenges that I know organizations struggle with as they work to get their data governance program off the ground. I saw lots of heads nodding around the room as she talked about the issues that pop up as you work to get your data governance program off the ground. But the most important advice – one that we hear from customers and partners alike – is to get started, and take small steps. Remember, data governance is a journey. You can watch the complete talk here.

Collibra Customer Meetups take place regularly in Brussels, London, New York and Washington DC. To find out when the next customer meet-up near you is taking place, please visit



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