Building the Business Case for Governance

Paul McInnis, Head of Enterprise Data Management, Data Management


When it comes to making the business case for data governance, Jim Stitt, Head of Data Management at RBC Global Asset Management, likens the exercise to measuring the ROI of keeping the home garage organized. Yes, there’s real value in doing so, but he asks, “How do you measure [the value of] the holiday decorations being where you expect them to be or the right tool is readily available?”

Stitt, participating in a recent webinar hosted by WatersTechnology and sponsored by Eagle, highlights one of the larger challenges when it comes to initiating a data governance strategy. While most executives recognize the necessity for clean, accurate and timely data—and, importantly, they acknowledge the role of a formalized and systematic strategy—making the case to senior leadership or gaining buy-in across the various business functions of a global enterprise can be a daunting task.

The webinar, “Best Practices for Implementing and Monitoring Your Data Governance Strategy,” explored strategies to answer this question and many more. Joining RBC’s Stitt, were Prasad Malisetty, Director of Data Management and Reporting at Nationwide Investments, and myself, as well as WatersTechnology US Editor Anthony Malakian, who served as moderator.

To be sure, it is possible to quantify and measure the value of a strong data governance program and arrive at a ballpark figure. For instance, the inefficiencies of operating multiple systems can be estimated by tallying the cost of the resources required to maintain what might be considered ancillary legacy systems. Additionally, as Malisetty added, it can be as simple as figuring out how much it would cost to add a new field in a reporting environment. When there’s a robust data governance strategy in place, he contests, “these questions are asked up front.” Going one step further, the organization can also track the opportunity costs of not pursuing product lines that might otherwise be considered a natural extension of the business.

When articulating the important role data governance can play, Stitt noted that it’s critical “to make the business case in business terms.” He explained, “Some technical users want to define, classify and stratify that information, and you fall into a trap that makes the efforts appear to be governance for governance’s sake…Data governance must be the means to an end and the end must be practical.”

For asset managers, it may be about quantifying their operational risk around reporting or compliance. For banking institutions, the regulatory risk might be more germane. At a minimum, organizations should ask themselves how well they’re positioned to stomach an audit request and understand where the soft spots reside in their existing data governance strategy.

In addition to the questions around building the business case, the webinar also explored: Where firms can go wrong when garnering enterprise-wide buy-in; whether or not governance programs should be viewed through the lens of an IT project or something more permanent; and how these efforts can be monitored and measured.

The full replay of the free webinar can be found here.

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