Oakland Group

Where to start with data governance tooling?

Good Data Governance is becoming an essential component for organisational growth and resilience in an increasingly data-driven world. The challenge for Data Governance practitioners is how to support their organisation along the journey to high data maturity and effective governance. To help with this journey, Data Governance tools are often considered, but with a multitude of companies providing Data Governance tooling, selecting the right one for your organisation can be difficult. Before you start the selection process, there are some key questions you need to answer.

Why do you need a Data Governance tool?

As you build out your Data Governance framework, you will start to create resources that benefit your whole organisation, from glossaries to lineage models. A tool helps create a structured way for these resources to be shared and evolved. You might want to use the tool for some or all of the following information.

The fundamental part of the selection process is clearly defining the ‘why’ you need a tool. However, it is important to understand that any tool should not just be a storage solution. Clarity is needed on what the tool should be able to do for your organisation, and what problems you are trying to solve. More importantly than this is ensuring end users of the tools are engaged in providing data and how they will interact with the tool. Any tool selected needs to be easier to use than the alternatives to enrich and engage with all stakeholders and users and provide value. So that it becomes a supportive part of your resources, not a hindrance for users getting their jobs done.

At what point do you need a Data Governance tool?

It sounds obvious, but tools work best when organisational culture can support them because using a tool effectively means having people capable of interacting with it in a meaningful way. At the start of the Data Governance journey, most information created about data can be comfortably documented within readily available productivity tools. You will also find that the skills and knowledge of your key users at this stage often mean that they need significant support to use any tool.

Tools come into their own when you have significant detail at a granular level across entire data sets with multiple functions across an organisation being represented. Alongside, your users will need to have significant capability in both enterprise and data knowledge to use the tool to provide value which may involve upskilling your existing team.

Populating the tool should not be the end goal of any Data Governance tooling project but the first stage of providing meaningful, timely, accurate information about the data across your organisation which helps support the Data Governance journey. This ensures data becomes a valuable asset and not a blocker to growth.

What do you need to consider before getting your Data Governance tool?

While many tools can connect to core systems, warehouses, etc., and therefore build linage models and profile the data, the knowledge of what the data means will often be in minds of key individuals. Already having this information documented allows the tool to be used faster. Bringing in a tool at a time in which you have to spend months setting up and getting key personnel to document their knowledge will be less valuable than if the information is available to use straight away, meaning that the tool starts providing value from the start.

Data Governance tools support the Data Governance work, but they cannot replace it. Bringing in a tool will not do Data Governance for you. In fact, it might end up hindering your progress if you do not have the right capabilities and information in order to use it effectively. Any tool you use is only as useful as the knowledge of the people creating information within it and the capabilities of business users to use it. So you need a network of people with a deep understanding of data that are engaged and ready.

How can Oakland help?

Choosing the right tool is a difficult task, but here at The Oakland Group, we help you understand where your organisation is on its data journey and when a Data Governance tool might support this through:

While this might start your thinking on tooling here at Oakland, we can help you bring the process to life.