Governance or Garbage? 3


My last post was an open letter, all be it a whiny one, on what I want from a Tag Management System.  And while all those wishes and requests are valid and I hope every TMS vendor out there should copy them down and add them to their roadmaps, there is something that no tool or system can provide for you that is critical to the success of your digital ecosystem.  Governance.  It matter not if you have the best implementation or the best group of analysts out there, if you do not have a handle on your data governance and your process is not flexible to change as your digital assets change then you will have problems.  I’d bet your job on it.

Let’s set the stage here.  When companies sit back and think about their data governance plan, they either do not have one or they think it looks like this.

Fictional Data Governance

But in reality….most companies data governance process looks more like this.

And the strange lady who is lying in ponds throwing swords at folks only does a great job of eventually turning all of your data into this.

This is your data without governance

It’s ok… you don’t have to raise your hand publicly and acknowledge that your reporting and dashboards truly resemble the picture above.  It will be our little secret.   Don’t give up hope, there is a way out of the data landfill and back to the land where you can get to the nirvana of digital intelligence to be able to use your data to find real and actionable insights that you believe in.    Everybody under the sun will say you need to tell a story with the data, you just have to be sure you are not telling fairy tales.

So how do you get on the right path to this data governance nirvana?  I have worked with many companies to help them on this journey and while the trip is different for everyone there are a set of core elements that your data governance plan should have.

Teamwork

Who are all of the stakeholders in your organization that need to sold or at least agree to the steps of the governance plan?  Have you met with them all?  Do you plan to keep meeting with them or a regular basis to update them on changes or modifications to the  plan that must be made along way?  Hint…you should.

Accountability 

See also..blame.  Who is responsible for maintaining or enforcing this data governance plan?  Does this person has the right clout within your organization to do this job, or will they be railroaded and pushed around to the point where they are not able to be effective?

Infrastructure

Are the right support systems in place to facilitate this process?  Is there is system for workflow management?  Does the documentation exist in a fluid, collaborative, and accesible location?  Or is it sitting in someone’s email box or buried somewhere on their computer?   Might as well be carved in stone.

Quality Assurance

Too often QA, real QA is an after thought or treated as a formality as part of user acceptance testing to check off a box and move on to the next step.   But if you do not have a well thought out test plan and a defined process for what steps to take when things break or fail testing, then you are begging for problems.  Don’t just take my word for it.

Don’t make Randy cry…please.

There is of course a lot more details, planning, and work that goes into a well thought out data governance plan, but these core sections need to be part of it.    Without governance your awesome implementation, your fancy analytics tool, your tag management system, your team of analysts will make it super easy to determine your ROI on all those investments.  Hint…it’s going to be very low.

What type of data plan do you want to have ? Governance or Garbage?


About Rudi Shumpert

Rudi is the Evangelist for Tag Management @ Adobe. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer. To contact Rudi you can reach him at rudi (at) rudishumpert.com. You can also hear him on the Beyond Web Analytics podcast archives at www.beyondwebanalytics.com


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3 thoughts on “Governance or Garbage?

  • Reply
    Nancy Koons

    Nice post, Rudi. This is a topic that I think is critical, but has not been as formally addressed within the industry. Most analysts (myself included) learn this concept the hard way- when assumptions about how easy something is, or how requirements can be interpretted don’t work out that way, and you find yourself looking at a bunch of data that doesn’t make sense (which is the best case- the worst case is you can’t catch the error because it’s masked). I can’t say our governance is perfect or tight, but I can say it’s ALOT better than it was 3-4 years ago. It’s a constant focus on improvement, based on experience.