Selecting the right technologies to enable good governance

I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of clients last week at IOD about their information governance initiatives. There was definitely a consistent theme in the discussions. Most of the organizations have begun to set up organizational structures for governance, it seems mostly reporting to the CFO or COO, but for the most part it is business as usual on the IT side for now. That said, most of the folks I talked to expect to see an impact to their processes in 2011.

As a result, I got a lot of questions about how organizations can be sure to select technologies that enable good governance practices. It seems they are anticipating that they will get new requirements and they want to be prepared when they do.

My number one suggestion was to begin establishing a dialog with the business side of their organizations around the business view of information. Establishing a common vocabulary across business and IT will be critical, so that they can respond to governance demands. I told them that they should begin to understand the data in their systems and map it to that common vocabulary.

By doing this, IT organizations will already have an understanding of where they need to go to enforce policies, once the governance organization begins their mandate. Since governance policies are always expressed in business terms, this is critical so that IT can respond quickly. Of course, this is often complicated when different business organizations are driving data governance independently.

Jim Ericson does a great job describing this in his excellent blog post:

Internal credit and risk departments are likely to see governance differently. Figuring out how to have all these parties addressing policy, data definitions, ownership, rights and access at the table with a proper vote of influence is very tricky.

There’s no easy answer to this, but tools like InfoSphere Business Glossary that facilitate the creation of a common vocabulary can provide a critical link to making this work. My best advice is for IT to begin investing in creating a common vocabulary and linking it to their physical data assets so that they are prepared when the requirements come.

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