The Business Value Linkage: Securing Buy-In for Your Data Governance Projects

Buy-in for data governance projectsOver the past decade, the need for data quality and better governance has evolved from a struggling sales pitch to an integral must-have by executives across company functions and industries. Yet, many CIOs and other enterprise information management (EIM) leaders are finding it hard to secure the buy-in needed to continue maturing data management practices and reducing the many risks that come from ‘dirty data’.

Executives most often fail to get the buy-in they’re looking for because the discreet outcomes, or project deliverables, do not have a clear connection to business objectives. In other words, can you isolate a key deliverable from your project and articulate to the Senior Leadership Team how you are going to move the needle on one of their most pressing measures for business success with it? In most cases, this connection is not clear. Providing evidence for this connection is essential in order for executives to gain resources and secure the project funding they need, even when competing with newer business priorities, to deliver a new product, service or enhancement with maximum impact at no unnecessary cost or risk.

An effective way to track your efforts to create and maintain value linage to your project objectives and deliverables is by using a Business Value Linkage dashboard. Think of it as a business case on steroids, a measurement tool, and the basis for status reporting. Keep in mind, each of these steps can be completed by the project team, but should be vetted with key executives who will be impacted so everyone is aligned on scope and ‘what they’re getting’ from Day 1. This is crucial to buy-in. Here’s a quick reference guide on how you can get started at building your value linkage dashboard.

  1. Define the project mission. That is, very clearly define, “what is the particular initiative or project going to deliver and how does it support the broader business objectives?”
  2. Define your objectives. You need to answer the question, “How do we define success for the project?” Best practice is to develop 3-5 objectives, depending on the size of the project or program, and include questions like, “will your project automate processes and reduce the likelihood of human error?” Or, “will it organize data more effectively in some way?” Make sure these objectives tie to your mission and broader business objectives.
  3. Identify specific business indicators. Your last step will be to ensure your dashboard is supported with the organizational metrics that will help you answer the question of whether you are successful. If they do not exist today, you know you have a little more work. Indicators answer the question, “How will we track and report success for the project?” Here’s a practical tip. You likely already have a starting point if you have an existing data governance or quality dashboard. This step is something that is typically overlooked in projects, but it’s necessary to continue telling the story, demonstrating value (or how a program may be deviating) and sustaining buy-in for the change. Don’t skip it! Here’s a conceptual view of what you’ll end up with:
  4. Link Data Management to Business

The Business Value Linkage methodology is a powerful tool for isolating scope, gaining buy-in, securing funding, and articulating progress in terms that the ‘business’ can understand. By implementing a few fundamental shifts in how you propose your data governance initiatives, you will be well on your way to winning the executive support you need across the organization to implement better data governance.

Further your knowledge on linking to business value. Read Linking Business Value to System Initiatives and watch a short Business Value Webcast.