A few weeks ago, those who follow horse racing witnessed a historic event. The race horse Justified captured the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes following earlier victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Justified became only the 13th horse in history to capture the Triple Crown, and the second horse to do so in the last 4 years (American Pharoah captured the honor in 2015). Interesting side note: both Justified and American Pharoah were trained by Bob Baffert. Why does that matter? Because he’s a fellow Arizonan native and University of Arizona alumnus, that’s why! Bear Down!
While it may be a stretch, the concept of a “triple crown” of sorts has been on my mind recently as it relates to recent Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) projects I’ve been working on involving Oracle Data Relationship Management (DRM) and Data Relationship Governance (DRG). Many people are familiar with the DRG module of the DRM product, but when the tool is coupled with two other critical components, you are well on your way to capturing the Data Governance Triple Crown.
1. Tool – Data Relationship Governance
As you may know, DRG is a module of the DRM product and provides a governance framework for maintaining your DRM master data. DRG includes functionality such as workflows, approvals, email notifications, and separation of duties (to prevent someone from approving his own request). Workflows are often structured around dimension maintenance and may include requests like “Add Account,” “Update Account,” or “Move Account.” The workflow then guides the requester to select tasks and complete fields on a data entry form. Once submitted, the request enters optional enrichment stages where additional detail and context is added to the request before finally being committed and updating the relevant DRM structures.
Here are just a few of the key features in DRG:
- Requests can be entered interactively or via bulk upload files
- Documents (such as supporting request documentation, emails, or policies) can be attached to requests
- Comments/supporting narrative can be included
- Requests can be pushed back to a prior stage, approved, or rejected
- Request can generate email notifications to approvers and/or participants in a workflow requests
- Requests can include validations, calculated fields, and conditional criteria to enter or bypass specific stages in the workflow
While I could go on and on about DRG, I’ve noticed a DRG implementation is most effective when paired with two other components.
2. Process – Data Governance Program
In my experience, DRG implementations are most successful when bundled into a broader data governance program. Data governance programs bring together the Tool (DRG), the People (data stewards, data specialists, data governance council), and the Process (process flows, metrics, and standards).
Key facets to an effective data governance program include:
- Executive sponsorship
- Data Governance Council
- Clear Roles and Responsibilities
- Standards (metrics, definitions, process flows)
- Authority and Accountability
Data governance programs are not easy! The change management aspect to implementing effective data governance cannot be underestimated. There will be natural resistance, pushback, and challenges to any type of change, and data governance initiatives are no exception. Data governance implementations require patience and perseverance, and at times, even a bit of the “carrot and stick” approach. As a result, we have seen the following steps as crucial to getting your data governance program off the ground:
- Define Charter Team and Responsibilities
- Define the Mission Statement
- Define the High-Level Scope
- Define the Terminology and Standards
- Define the Current State Overview
- Define the Future State Vision
- Define the Draft Phased Approach
- Prepare the Project Charter
- Present the Project Charter for Executive Approval
- Ensure Executive Support
While there is much more content to dive into on a data governance program that is beyond the scope of this blog, I hope you appreciate the importance of People and Process in a data governance initiative and do not focus only on the Tool.
3. Integration – DRM to External Systems
The third and final component to effective data governance, after the Tool and Process, is integration to external systems. This allows DRM to truly become the master data hub in your company’s eco-system and systematically push master data (which could include trees/hierarchies, base members, mappings, or all of the above) to both upstream and downstream systems.
By leveraging DRM’s robust integration capabilities and adding in some custom SQL or ETL integration as needed, DRM can produce master data in various forms (flat files, SQL tables, web services, external commits) for consumption by external applications. And these integrations can be run on-demand or scheduled.
So there you have it. Three critical components to effective data governance: a good tool (DRG), a robust process (data governance program), and automated integration (with DRM as the hub).
Are any of these components effective in their own right? Certainly. Each area adds value in its own right and can be implemented standalone. But when all three components are implemented in conjunction, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Each component presents its own set of challenges and requires close collaboration with both technical and business personnel at a customer. And executive sponsorship and buy-in is absolutely vital to managing and overcoming the inevitable change management challenges. It ain’t easy, but like the saying goes, nothing worthwhile ever is, right?